MDH: All K-12 students, staff should wear masks in schools this fall

Minnesota health and education officials are recommending all students, teachers, staff and visitors in school buildings wear masks when they return to school this fall, regardless of vaccination status. The recommendation follows the latest guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention regarding masking in K-12 schools. 

MDH is expected to release more details regarding the updated school guidance at a 2 p.m. news conference, which will air live on FOX 9 and streamed live at

RELATED: CDC says vaccinated should mask indoors, as should K-12 schools

In addition to masking, the Minnesota Department of Health is also issuing the following guidance for the start of the 2021-22 school year: 

  • All people ages 12 years and older should get vaccinated for COVID-19 before returning to in-person school, sports, or other activities to protect themselves and people around them who cannot get vaccinated.
  • Schools should maintain at least 3 feet of physical distance between students within classrooms whenever possible.
  • Students, teachers, and staff should stay home if they have signs of any infectious illness, and should contact their health care provider for testing and care.
  • Students, teachers, and staff who have been fully vaccinated do not need to stay home even if they have had recent close contact with a confirmed case so long as they remain asymptomatic and do not test positive. Follow CDC testing guidance for anyone exposed to a confirmed case.
  • People who are not fully vaccinated and returning to in-person school, sports, or extracurricular activities (and their families) should get tested regularly for COVID-19 according to CDC guidance.
  • Schools should continue to strengthen good ventilation, rapid and thorough contact tracing in combination with isolation and quarantine, handwashing, respiratory etiquette, cleaning, and disinfection as important layers of prevention to keep schools safe.

There are no longer mandates in place that require schools to follow the guidance, but MDH said the recommendations are designed to support local school boards and school leaders as they make decisions for the upcoming school year and keep students and staff safe. 

"Vaccination, masking, and physical distancing remain our best public health prevention strategies for slowing the spread of COVID-19," Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm said in a statement. "The Delta variant is proving to have an alarming ability to spread more easily, so it’s more important than ever that anyone eligible for vaccination get that protection as soon as possible, and follow the CDC’s guidance for continued masking, distancing and other prevention strategies to help avoid the widespread illnesses and community impacts we saw during the last school year."

Education and health officials are continuing to encourage Minnesotans 12 years of age and older to get vaccinated for COVID-19 before returning to in-person school, sports, or other extracurricular activities.