MN releases guidance for upcoming school year

Minnesota school districts are not required to follow the MDH guidance, which includes the CDC’s decision to recommend wearing masks indoors.

The Minnesota Department of Health released guidance Wednesday, July 28 for the upcoming 2021-2022 school year based on recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The state’s guidance document came out the day after the CDC announced vaccinated individuals should wear masks indoors in public settings — including schools — in areas that have a high or substantial level of transmission, Daily New previously reported.

Minnesota school districts are not required to follow the MDH guidance. Currently, the only requirement for Minnesota schools is that anyone on public transportation — including school buses — must be wearing a mask, a federal mandate, Breckenridge Public Schools Superintendent Brad Strand said.

“I’m not sure what direction Breckenridge Public Schools will be going yet,” Strand said.

District administration will be meeting Monday, Aug. 2 to discuss next steps. Strand said they plan to include the COVID-19 team to sort through the recommendations and formulate a plan. He is also expecting an upcoming meeting for area superintendents to discuss ideas and gauge the direction other districts are heading.

School administration will likely bring a proposal to the Aug. 18 school board meeting where the final decision will ultimately be up to the school board, Strand said.

“It looks like it’ll be local control as of right now, but that could change,” Strand said.

School guidance from the MDH states that:

  • all people aged 12 and over should get vaccinated for COVID-19 before returning to school;
  • all students, staff and teachers should wear masks indoors regardless of their vaccination status;
  • schools should maintain at least 3 feet of physical distancing indoors;
  • students, staff and teachers should stay home if they are experiencing symptoms;
  • students, staff and teachers who do not test positive and are fully vaccinated do not need to quarantine if they come in close contact with someone who has a confirmed case;
  • people who are not fully vaccinated should get tested regularly;
  • and schools should continue to use good ventilation, conduct contact tracing and practice hand hygiene, respiratory etiquette, cleaning and sanitizing.

According to the MDH, the recommendations are meant to assist school boards and administration with their decision-making process.

“Vaccination, masking and physical distancing remain our best public health prevention strategies for slowing the spread of COVID-19,” MDH Commissioner Malcolm stated. “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.”

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