ST. PAUL, Minn. – The Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) is recommending all students, teachers, staff, and visitors wear masks inside school buildings whether they’ve been vaccinated or not.
MDE says it is following the new CDC guidance on COVID-19 prevention in schools. Among the other recommendations:
- 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.
- 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.
MDE emphasizes that these recommendations are not mandates which must be followed, they do “it does represent the most current science-based best practices for safe in-person learning.”
“In-person learning is critical, not only when it comes to academics, but also for our students’ social-emotional well-being and mental health,” says Minnesota Education Commissioner Dr. Heather Mueller. “As we head back to school this fall, we must implement measures to protect the health and safety of all of our students, staff and families.”
Minnesota Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm says the basic tools for fighting COVID-19 remain the same even as the virus itself has evolved into new variants that spread more easily from person to person and make containment more challenging.
“Vaccination, masking, and physical distancing remain our best public health prevention strategies for slowing the spread of COVID-19,” says Malcolm. “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.”
Minnesota GOP Education Leads Rep. Ron Kresha (R-Little Falls) and Rep. Sondra Erickson (R-Princeton) released the following reaction to MDE's announcement:
“These are decisions that should be made at the local level with the involvement of students and parents, and with no undue influence or pressure from the Minnesota Department of Education to implement these recommendations. Our parents, teachers, and local school districts have the experience and expertise necessary to make the decision that’s right for their schools, and we need to trust them to do so.”