Minneapolis, St. Paul school districts to add mask requirement

Minneapolis Public Schools will require masks for all staff, students and visitors this school year. Starting Aug. 9, face coverings will be required in all MPS buildings regardless of vaccination status, the district announced Thursday.

"This decision is based on the strong recommendations from the Minnesota Department of Health about masking being a critical way to protect children who cannot yet get vaccinated, along with others who are not vaccinated," MPS wrote in a bulletin.

Face coverings also continue to be required on public transportation, including school buses.

MPS will be providing families with more details in the coming weeks on its COVID-19 back-to-school plan.

St. Paul Public Schools mask requirement 

Saint Paul Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Joe Gothard will introduce a resolution requiring masks for all students ages 2 and older, as well as all staff and visitors. If approved by the Board of Education, the SPPS mask mandate would go into effect on Wednesday, Aug. 18.

Minnesota school district mask decisions

Last month, the Rochester school board voted to require masks in school for students ages 2 to 12 and staff that work with those students.

That guideline is similar to the Duluth school district, where masks will be required for students 5th grade and younger as well as staff working in that age group. 

Some of the state’s largest districts, like Anoka Hennepin and the Rosemount-Apple Valley-Eagan school district, have updated their COVID-19 policies since the governor’s recommendation, saying this next school year masks will be recommended but not required.

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. 

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.

Vax to School

The window of opportunity is closing for students to get both shots and to be fully vaccinated before the start of the school year. All student age 12 and older are eligible for COVID-19 vaccines. Find a location at https://vaccineconnector.mn.gov/