by ALEXANDRA RETTER
The number of new cases of COVID-19 among Winona Area Public Schools (WAPS) staff and students decreased this week. The number of students and staff going into quarantine also declined.
Between April 29 and May 5, five new cases of COVID-19 were reported among WAPS students and staff, down from seven the previous week. There were also 77 staff members and students who went into quarantine between April 29 and May 5, representing a decrease from 123 the week prior.
“These cases were from a community spread, which is what we’re finding when we do have positive cases in,” Superintendent Annette Freiheit said at the School Board’s May 6 meeting. “Our students that are getting this are actually very asymptomatic and come to school, and then start to show symptoms and end up getting tested.”
Though there was a decrease in cases at WAPS, new cases are arising in younger community members in Winona County. Between May 1 and May 7, there were 27 new infections reported among individuals aged 5-19, representing about 40.4 percent of new COVID-19 cases in Winona County, according to Winona County Health and Human Services data.
WAPS staff are also working through whether elementary students will wear masks at recess, Freiheit said, given Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz’s announcement on Wednesday regarding the lifting of outdoor event capacity limits and masks not being required at outdoor events with fewer than 500 people.
Middle and high school students at WAPS will soon be able to receive free coronavirus testing kits, as well. On May 11 and May 25, middle and high school students may pick up a kit at Winona Middle School, Winona Senior High School and Winona Area Learning Center. For more details, click here.
Outside of WAPS, students in grades seven and eight at Bluffview Montessori School have been learning in-person since April 8, students in grades four through six have been attending class face-to-face since February 24 and students in pre-kindergarten through third grade have been going to school in person since January 27.