Rochester parents and community members who refuse to wear masks during school board meetings will be banned from district property for one year.
Rochester Public Schools Board Chair Jean Marvin announced the new policy during a Sept. 21 meeting.
“We have implemented a policy that is very easy to understand. If you want to be in this building, you need to wear an appropriate, effective mask. If you don’t want to wear that kind of mask, don’t be here. Watch the meeting from home and email your thoughts to board members or call or write letters. We will respond,” she said.
Marvin did not define what counts as an “effective” face mask, and the efficacy of face masks in general has been called into question by recent studies.
“Starting tonight, if you choose not to wear an appropriate mask while you’re in this building, and when approached by an administrator you refuse to comply, you will be trespassed. That means you will be prohibited from setting foot on RPS school property for one year. A police officer may escort you out of the building if needed,” Marvin continued.
Marvin also did not clarify if the new policy applies to vaccinated individuals. In July, the board voted to require masks for children between the ages of two and 12 — but not for children over the age of 12, since they can be vaccinated.
Marvin recessed a school board meeting earlier this month because there were “a few people here who feel it’s important to not mask,” she said. The board also cut the mic at a July meeting when a group of parents began praying.
Other districts have used similar measures to crack down on the groundswell of parents speaking out at school board meetings. The White Bear Lake Area School Board, for instance, adjourned a meeting early last week when a group of parents entered the room without masks.
School District 196 — covering Rosemount, Apple Valley, and Eagan — decided to limit public comment in July.