School districts begin mandating masks for upcoming school year

Schools are claiming mask requirements are the "least disruptive way" to return to in-person learning, while others say they will drop their mandates if "conditions improve."

St. Louis Park Public Schools/Facebook

As CDC guidance changes, school districts across the state are grappling with the polarizing issue of mask mandates, in many cases opting for another school year of forced masking.

Minneapolis Public Schools was one of the first districts to require masks in school buildings, issuing its announcement on August 9, while St. Paul Public Schools instated a mask mandate Tuesday night after the St. Paul Board of Education voted unanimously on the matter.

Robbinsdale Area Schools will require masks, claiming it will be the “least disruptive” way to return to school and will reduce the number of quarantines in each classroom.

The Burnsville-Eagan-Savage School District appears to have a plan that is not too different from last year — they will require masks, “minimize” mixing of groups of students, promote social distancing, and “operate ventilation systems at longer run times.”

Mounds View Public Schools will require masks but hopes “conditions will improve in the near future,” so the mandate can be dropped.

The city of Rochester issued a face mask mandate on Tuesday, effective immediately in all indoor public settings.

Other school districts requiring face masks at this time include the following: Sartell-St. Stephen, St. Louis Park, West St. Paul-Mendota Heights-Eagan, St. Anthony-New Brighton, Brooklyn Center, Edina, Duluth, Fridley, Inver Grove Heights, Richfield, South Washington County, and White Bear Lake.

A pop-up from the St. Anthony-New Brighton schools website reminds users that masks are required in all school buildings, regardless of vaccination status.

Most of these schools say they will require masks regardless of vaccination status. Most are not requiring masks for sports or after-school activities.

Anoka-Hennepin schools, Spring Lake Park schools, and Forest Lake schools have all said they will not require masks but do strongly recommend that all students and staff wear them while indoors. Shakopee schools said a decision will be made regarding masks by August 24.

CDC guidance currently recommends that everyone over the age of two wear a mask in indoor public spaces, regardless of vaccination status.

The Minnesota House reinstated its mask mandate shortly after Gov. Tim Walz announced that all Minnesota state agency employees would be required to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

Many businesses continue to require or strongly recommend that masks be worn by their employees and customers, and Walz has advised employers to require vaccines for their staff.