COVID case rate in 55731 zip code down to 0.0

by Tom Coombe
The Ely School District is poised to return to full in-person learning for the first time since the start of the school year.
That change could come as soon as this week, following a Wednesday announcement by superintendent Erik Erie.
Erie said the district is planning for middle and high school students to return to in-person learning the week of Feb. 8, pending discussion after deadline with the district’s Ely Safe Learning Plan Advisory Committee.
District officials also had a consultation this week with state and county public health officials to discuss bringing students back full time.
While elementary students have had in-person learning since Jan. 12, the middle and high school have operated under a hybrid model since then, with students in school two days per week.
The development comes amid a bottoming out of COVID-19 case numbers in Ely, and dramatic declines regionally and across the state.
For two weeks in a row, there have been no new cases reported among residents of the 55731 zip code and only six in the last four week.
That makes the local case rate per 10,000 to 0.00 over the last 14 days, and for three weeks in a row the number has been under 10 per 10,000, which allows for in-person learning under state health department regulations and a “restart blueprint” authorized by the Ely School Board.
In a Jan. 22 letter to parents, high school principal Megan Anderson noted the drop in case rate, which was at 9.66 on that date, and said “if we can maintain these numbers for a few weeks, we’ll be looking to shift back to in-person learning.”
The Ely district went to a full distance learning model in late-November, after COVID cases spiked regionally, including 73 new cases in a three-week span from mid-November into early-December.
Within the school community, 14 cases have been reported since school opened in September, but there haven’t been any since mid-January and only three since mid-November.
Other than a brief period at the start of the school year, when all students were in school each day, middle and high schools students were in the hybrid model this year and elementary has been full in-person, other than the several week pause from Nov. 23-Jan. 11 that also included Thanksgiving and Christmas breaks.
While schools initially were guided by county numbers to determine learning models, districts now have more autonomy and local case rate data has been available in Ely for several months.