Parents, staff, students anxiously wait for mask guidance from Minnesota school districts

After Governor Tim Walz and the Minnesota Department of Health recommended masks in school for children this upcoming school year, many are waiting to hear if their school districts will change current masking policies.

The recommendation was made after the Center for Disease Control changed their guidelines and recommendations.

So far, many school districts have not informed staff, students or parents about potential changes to their masking policy.

Last Tuesday, one day before the governor’s recommendation, 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.

The Brainerd school board is expected to vote on a return to school safety plan next Monday. that could include masking guidelines.

An online petition against masks in Brainerd schools has more than 1,500 signatures. Closer to the cities, a petition started by a parent in Minnetonka asking the school board to require masks has more than 200 signatures.

Those in support writing comments like "We need to protect our unvaccinated kids!!" and "We need to keep everyone safe so they can continue to go to school!"

It’s still not clear when that district and many others will make a decision on masks.

The Minneapolis and St. Paul school districts still have not said when or if they will update their policies. Currently, masks are recommended at summer programs but are not required for students.

Meanwhile, the University of Minnesota announced last week they would not change their mask policy. That policy states, "Unvaccinated individuals should wear a mask indoors at all times. Vaccinated individuals may decide not to do so."