Enrollment down and COVID-19 cases up in East Grand Forks Public Schools

District enrollment is at its lowest point since 2017 and COVID-19 cases are continuing to rise, particularly among students.

Written By: Hannah Shirley | 7:10 pm, May 10, 2021

East Grand Forks Senior High School. File photo

East Grand Forks Senior High School. File photo

The latest enrollment numbers for the East Grand Forks Public School District are “bleak,” according to Superintendent Mike Kolness.

The district’s enrollment has declined by about 90 students since the beginning of the school year, Kolness told the East Grand Forks School Board at its regular meeting Monday evening, May 10. Some of those students switched to a virtual academy during COVID-19, and he hopes that they might return to the district next year, but many students have moved out of the district altogether.

“Whether they moved to Africa or moved to Grand Forks or other areas, we’ve had students that have been moving in and out of the district, so hopefully we can get back up to that 1,900 mark for the start of school next year,” Kolness said.

There are now 1,853 students enrolled in the district, the lowest since 2017, according to Kolness.

With two weeks left in the school year, COVID-19 cases are continuing to rise in the district. Between March 26 and last Thursday, May 6, 66 new cases were reported in the district, mostly among students, Kolness said.

Last Thursday, the Minnesota Department of Health reported that the 14-day average number of COVID-19 cases per capita in Polk County was 14.9, up from a low point of 11.4 in mid-March.

Kolness urged parents to remain vigilant when monitoring students for symptoms and to keep them home when they’re ill.

“We made it through prom last Saturday,” Kolness said. “So the next thing is graduation. We have a lot of other activities that we have marked on our calendar (and) we are hoping we can make it through there without having any quarantines or students that are ill with COVID.”

In other school board-related news:

  • Kolness recommended the board hire a full-time special education staff member for East Grand Forks Senior High School. He noted that special education staff has faced significant strain during the pandemic.
  • The board approved a transition from a seven-period day to an eight-period day at the high school. The goal of the eight-period day is to allow students to take more specialized classes without making it too difficult for them to achieve graduation.
  • The board also accepted the resignation of high school physical education teacher and assistant boys high school hockey coach Scott Oliver. Oliver has been with the district since 2010.