ROCHESTER, Minn. - Interim Rochester Public Schools superintendent Kent Pekel released a strategy Friday for combatting the COVID-19 pandemic during the upcoming school year, and it includes a mask mandate for schools.
In a lengthy memo, Pekel said they will announce ways for the RPS community to provide feedback during a school board meeting on Aug. 17.
“I recommend that the School Board revise Policy 808 to require all students older than two years of age as well as all staff and all other adults to wear face coverings inside all RPS facilities and on all forms of transportation. I propose that our policy recommend but not require masks outdoors on RPS grounds,” Pekel said.
He also spoke with KIMT News 3 one-on-one. Pekel said he knows masking is a hot-button issue but says it's only one piece of the comprehensive puzzle to ensure schools stay open this year with the goal of providing the best educational environment possible.
He explained, "Let's not forget that. This is about the educational success of our kids and we're doing these things like masks to make it possible to achieve that mission. So, let's not forget about the teaching and learning while we're all focused on COVID."
Pekel said RPS will partner with the county to operate vaccine clinics at schools to increase vaccination rates among students, staff and the community.
“RPS will develop an anonymous and optional process through which staff, volunteers and community providers will be asked to report and verify their vaccine status. RPS will also develop an anonymous and optional process through which parents and guardians will be asked to report and verify the vaccine status of their children,” Pekel said.