The county release update COVID rate information for 9/13-26, based on 10,000 people. Greater SLC is at 19.61. Duluth is 33.37. The county average is 27.89, which is what appears on the Minnesota Department of Health’s “Data for K-12 Schools: 14-day COVID-19 Case Rate by County.” This MDH reported Itasca county at 23.01. However, using current data, Itasca County put its 14-day rate, as of Oct. 4, at 38.6.


As reported by the Chisholm Tribune Press, Chisholm’s Superintendent Dr. Janey Blanchard tested positive for COVID and spent some time in the hospital. She was back in the office for a short time Thursday and expected back in the coming days.

Mark Morrison, Principal of Chisholm High School, is filling in for Blanchard while she is away. Over email Friday, Morrison explained that there have been a total of three confirmed COVID cases, all in the 4th-6th grade building. One case was in a student, and their class was quarantined. Two staff members, including Blanchard, have also had confirmed cases. All have recovered.

“Parents have been really good at communicating and keeping their kids home if there are symptoms along with their siblings,” said Morrison. “They are showing us results of covid tests and they’re all negative except for the one student mentioned above. Lots of strep throat and flu going around but very little covid connected to the school”

Morrison acknowledged that zero cases at the high school could change at any time and if that happens, the district will reevaluate their learning model.

“I’m thankful our Chisholm parents have been honest and upfront when their kids have symptoms. Even though all but one we know of have been negative, they are sharing information voluntarily when their kids are sick and then keep the entire family home,” concluded Morrison. “It’s a partnership. We continue to do temp checks daily of all students.”


As the 14-day COVID rate approaches 20, conversations are beginning concerning not only moving 7-12 to the hybrid model but also younger learners.

“If the number goes above 20, we will consult SLC Public Health to see if it dictates a change in learning model,” said Superintendent Richard Aldrich over email this week. “The decision will not be immediate unless the local data demands it. We are concerned about keeping our youngest students in person, as long safely possible. Three data points will be one piece of the puzzle.”

Currently, 7-12 graders will remain hybrid and PreK-6 graders will remain in-person learning.

Mesabi East

Mesabi East will remain hybrid for all learners.

“Mesabi East has been in full hybrid since the start of school,” said Superintendent Gregg Allen over email, Thursday. “The high school has a 2 day a week in school and 3 day a week distance learning program. The elementary is in hybrid in a different program. The elementary uses the 50% or less occupancy and 6 feet between students in each classroom. Mesabi East had to add staff to make this work but all classrooms are at 50% occupancy or less. All elementary students in grades PK-6 go to school all day every day.”


“Keewatin Elementary is transitioning to hybrid learning beginning Monday so K-12 will all be hybrid in Nashwauk-Keewatin,” said Superintendent Brenda Spartz over email Thursday. “Moving through the first 5 weeks of school, it has become increasingly important to look at the many factors contributing to COVID positivity rates and community transmission within the county and at the local level.”

Nashwauk-Keewatin has been working with Itasca County Public Health about concerns and any assistance needed to make informed decisions. This is resulting in the district transiting to phase three, with all students in the hybrid learning model.

Northland Learning Center

The Northland Learning Center will be remaining in-person for all students.

“Our staff and students have remained relatively healthy during the first month of school,” said Executive Director Brian Yuretich over email Thursday. “Between several students electing distance learning and our smaller student body to begin with, we are able to implement social distancing and other safe practices more easily than the other schools with larger school populations.”

Chisholm– All students are in-person

East Range Academy of Technology and Science– All students are hybrid

Ely– PreK-5 are in-person, 6-12 are hybrid

Floodwood– All students are in-person

Hibbing– PreK-6 are in-person, 7-12 are hybrid

Mesabi East– All hybrid with elementary in-person, daily

Mountain Iron-Buhl– All students are in-person

Nashwauk-Keewatin– All students are hybrid

Northland Learning Center– All students are in-person

Private Schools of Assumption and Marquette Catholic Schools and Victory Christian Academy– All students are in-person

Rock Ridge– PreK-6 are in-person, 7-12 are hybrid

St. Louis County Schools: Cherry, North Woods, Northeast Range, South Ridge and Tower-Soudan– All students are in-person


Chisholm Superintendent has COVID

By Marie Tolonen

Staff Writer

CHISHOLM — Dr. Janey Blanchard, Chisholm School Superintendent and Chisholm Elementary Principal, was recently hospitalized and is recovering from coronavirus.

Blanchard, in an email to the Tribune Press on Tuesday, said she didn’t know when she was infected with coronavirus.

“I started experiencing severe symptoms last Wednesday, including a high fever, chills and body aches,” wrote Blanchard.

Blanchard recalled her symptoms progressed and she was admitted to the hospital this past Sunday, and has since been diagnosed with what she was told is covid pneumonia. She said on Tuesday that she started a new treatment and may be released from the hospital that afternoon, or the following day.

Until she’s cleared to return to work, the district’s two other administrators, Mark Morrison, principal at Chisholm High School, and Jeffrey Hancock, principal at the Vaughan-Steffensrud Elementary are filling the void in Blanchard’s absence.

On Tuesday, St. Louis County reported 67 new cases of coronavirus and five newly reported deaths. Statewide, the total number of positive cases was at 98,447 as of Tuesday.

The Chisholm School District is following state and federal mandates and guidelines for stopping the spread of coronavirus and is in daily contact with a representative from the local health department, Blanchard said.

Steps the district has taken since Blanchard’s diagnosis include deep cleaning her office, and placing any person considered to be exposed to her on a quarantine. Blanchard noted that the number of people she was exposed to was very limited.

Since school began this fall, the district has been delivering an in-person model for education. The school district decided on that model, knowing parents who were not comfortable with in-person learning would have the option of going with the district’s distance learning plan as required by the Minnesota Department of Education.

Blanchard said since school began in the fall, there was one student who tested positive for coronavirus. She said quite a few others have gone through the testing protocol, but their results haven’t come back positive.

Morrison, during a school board meeting on Monday, said the high school hasn’t had any positive cases of coronavirus. Morrison said there is a type of flu bug that has hit the school.

At CHS there are about 60 students who are doing distance learning.

Morrison said the majority of distance learning is going well, but the district is following up on truancy in a couple of cases, and also looking into students who are experiencing connectivity issues with the online model of learning.


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