Brainerd Public Schools notified Forestview Middle School families Sunday, Sept. 13, of a confirmed case of COVID-19 at the school.

School started Sept. 8, with fifth grade students at Forestview attending classes in person every day and those in sixth through eighth grades going two days a week, unless they chose distance learning.

During the Brainerd School Board meeting Monday, Sept. 14, Larson reaffirmed the district is committed to maintaining a safe, healthy environment for its students, faculty and staff after Friday’s confirmation of a positive COVID-19 infection at Forestview Middle School. She said it highlights the ever-present difficulty of teaching amid a pandemic and cited it during an extended discussion on the status of the school district as it begins the new school year.

“Last Friday we had our first case in our school. Four days into this and that's been really hard, it's been really hard on all of us,” Larson said. “Today, we’ve done a lot of soul searching as a team to make sure that we’re doing everything, because our No. 1 goal in this whole project is to make sure that we have safe and secure environments for our learners and for our staff. Although we continue to do everything we can, we’re still going to have some of these cases that we’ll want to address.”

During an earlier phone interview Monday, Larson said the person infected came to school on Thursday, Sept. 10, and went home right away in the morning after developing symptoms. She said the person had close contact with four other people that morning. Brainerd City Council member Dave Pritschet, who teaches social studies at Forestview Middle School, was in quarantine Monday, Sept. 14, joining the council’s budget workshop virtually that night, as he said he may have been in contact with the person, who he said was another teacher. Pritschet said he got tested Monday and would quarantine until Sept. 25.

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The district contacted the Minnesota Department of Health right away, Larson said, and allowed state health officials to guide them through the next steps. MDH worked with the district to trace those who had contact with the individual and notify them of the possible exposure.

“The risk of exposure for other individuals present in the building on that date is no greater than the risk of contracting the virus in the general community,” the letter stated, with Larson noting, again, the health department guided the district through the identification process.

The district advised those who were not contacted to continue their normal routines but still monitor for symptoms of COVID-19.

“We understand that this may create unease in our community,” the letter stated. “We have taken action to clean and sanitize the facility and are working closely with MDH to monitor the situation.”

Larson said Monday this is the only case she is aware of in the district.

“One of things that is the most important to remind people is that if they have symptoms of anything, it’s just really important to stay home or go in and get a test or go to the doctor,” she said. “But if you have any type of a symptom or have a feeling that you’ve been around anyone with COVID or something of the sort, right now we just need you to take that super seriously.”

Larson said the district will continue to keep families up to date with any future information.

“This is a challenging time and I know many of you may be feeling stress or anxiety,” the district’s letter stated. “We will get through this together as a community, and will be stronger when we emerge.”

Minimize the risk

Community members should take the following steps, the district advised, to minimize the spread of illness:

  • Wear a face covering when closer than 6 feet to someone.

  • Wash hands often with soap and water.

  • Cover coughs and sneezes.

  • Avoid touching the face with unwashed hands.

  • Frequently clean all commonly touched surfaces (telephones, doorknobs, countertops, etc.).

  • Stay home from school, work, child care and other activities if sick and consult with a health care provider.

For those experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, the health department recommends staying home for at least 10 days and three days with no fever and improvement of other symptoms. A fever should be gone for three days without using a fever reducing medicine.

Those who come in contact with someone who has symptoms should stay home for 14 days.

Additional resources

For information on what to do when sick, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website at https://bit.ly/32raWOG or the Minnesota Department of Health website at https://bit.ly/3klGpbf.

Resources in Hmong are available at https://bit.ly/2ZDqKMu.



THERESA BOURKE may be reached at theresa.bourke@brainerddispatch.com or 218-855-5860. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/DispatchTheresa.