Winona County's COVID-19 case numbers are rising quickly, going up 26 cases Thursday and another 15 Friday. About 65% of those are people ages 10 to 24, according to state and county data.

Total cases have reached 550, and public high schools have shifted to distance learning as a result.

Minnesota State College Southeast, which has campuses in Red Wing and Winona, also is responding.

MSC Southeast reported that three people from the Winona campus community have tested positive for COVID-19, and one person who is off-site has tested positive, according to a written statement from interim President Larry Lundblad.

The college reported that it has had no cases on the Red Wing campus this fall.

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Last spring, the college had one case in March on the Red Wing campus and no cases in Winona.

“We are requiring the students, faculty, and staff to complete the Minnesota State online screening questionnaire prior to coming on campus, wear masks when on site, practice appropriate distancing, and follow hygiene protocols,” Lundblad said. “We have modified the labs, shops, and learning spaces to allow students and faculty to distance and thoroughly disinfect between classes.”

High case numbers in Winona County have caused public schools to go with full distance learning, but MSCSE has been able to keep case numbers down.

“The faculty and staff have been outstanding in making changes and working to accommodate students,” Lundblad said.

He noted that approximately 40% of MSCSE classes are online, another 20% hybrid, and 40% on campus. The online and hybrid students are primarily health and liberal arts.

“It is critical that we maintain the on-campus learning for skill building for our music, health, career and technical students,” he said.

Starting Thursday, the college also further limited contact between the Winona and Red Wing staff members.

"This travel has been greatly reduced already. We do not have students traveling between the campuses," Lundblad said in an email.

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Lundblad also reported he feels fortunate that MSCSE enrollments are even with last year.

“During the almost two weeks we have been in session, we are fluctuating between plus 1% to minus 2% in daily comparisons with last year,” he said in his report. “For example, on Monday, we were down seven full-year student equivalents (minus 1.4%) compared to-date last year. Students can drop with partial refunds for the next couple of weeks. The system uses the 30th day of the semester for final numbers. We do have some high school PSEO students yet to register.”