As more events and activities get cancelled with every refresh on your computer and social media accounts, The Minnesota Department of Health is NOT recommending any general school closures, but is offering advice and pointers to education leaders and parents in light of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

A news release on their website states, "The situation surrounding the outbreak is rapidly changing as new information becomes available. Please follow Minnesota Department of Health and CDC recommendations and avoid creating situations that may stigmatize staff or students."

At this point, the department is saying, "We are not making a recommendation that events or extracurricular activities be canceled. As always, we recommend that people stay home when sick, cover their cough, and practice good hygiene."

In a Tweet, Minnesota Public Radio reports health officials are "recommending schools reduce frequency of assemblies, and trying to keep students around most the same people."

Some college institutions, including the University of Minnesota on all of its campuses has eliminated in-person classes and is going to online courses.

The health department cautions against jumping to conclusions, "We are in cold and flu season. COVID-19 symptoms are similar to these more common infections, it is far more likely that anyone in Minnesota with respiratory symptoms is suffering from a cold or flu."

The department points out that people who have traveled to "affected geographic areas with widespread or sustained community transmission or who had close contact to some diagnosed with COVID-19 AND identified clinical systems" have a protocol to go through that may include restricted movements for a span of 14 days.

The health department encourages "schools to support students and staff who may be asked by public health officials to stay home for 14 days by allowing for leniency in absenteeism from classes and extracurricular activities."

The Minnesota Department of Health also invites schools to call their office to discuss specific situations that arise "before making recommendations so that we can work together to determine the best course of action."