Minnesota Department of Education Provides Anticipated Updates for Schools
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) provided a much anticipated, and yet surprising update last week that fully vaccinated individuals no longer need to wear masks. Later that evening, Governor Walz followed the CDC’s recommendations and lifted Minnesota’s mask mandate. Local municipalities and businesses may still choose to enforce the mask mandate at a local level. Minnesota Department of Education has provided some guidance on what this means for the remainder of the school year, but there are still questions about certain elements.
One thing is for sure, though: Minnesota’s Safe Learning Plan, along with the existing face covering guidance for schools and child care settings, remain in effect. Through the end of the 2020-21 school year (last teacher contact day), masks must continue to be worn by everyone inside school buildings or on a school bus.
MDE’s updated guidance is below.
Governor Walz announced an end to the statewide mask requirement. This announcement followed new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), stating that fully vaccinated individuals no longer need to wear a mask. Minnesotans who are not fully vaccinated are strongly recommended to wear face coverings indoors.
The CDC has not yet provided clear guidance for school settings, but has stated that they expect to update guidance for children in school and summer camps soon. Additionally, our youngest Minnesotans remain ineligible for vaccines and eligibility for 12- to 15-year-olds was just announced this week. As a result, Minnesota’s Safe Learning Plan, along with the existing face covering guidance for schools and child care settings, remain in effect. Through the end of the 2020-21 school year (last teacher contact day), masks must continue to be worn by everyone inside school buildings or on a school bus.
The CDC has been clear that the new guidance applies to people who are fully vaccinated. Our elementary students have not yet been vaccinated, eligibility just opened up 12- to 15-year-olds this week, and only some 16- to 18-year-olds are fully vaccinated. Knowing that our schools are places with a very high concentration of unvaccinated individuals, we must keep the requirement in place through the end of the school year.
End of School Year and Summer Clarifications
Following last week’s announcement from Governor Walz about the phase-out of many COVID-19 restrictions, we received some questions about the Executive Orders and the end of the 2020-21 school year. Below are a few points of clarification:
- All public school districts and charter schools must follow the Safe Learning Plan until the last teacher contact day for each individual district or charter school.
- Beginning immediately after the last teacher contact day, school districts and charter schools will follow the state COVID-19 recommendations for summer programming. These recommendations will continue to be updated.
- For summer programming, using the state recommendations as a guide, school districts and charter schools will need to make decisions about how to handle the following at the local level:
- Face coverings
- Physical distancing
- Contact tracing
- Student and staff COVID-19 testing
- Meal time
- Special areas
- For graduations prior to May 28, follow the indoor/outdoor venue guidance.
- For graduations after May 28, follow the universal guidance for all businesses and other entities.
Vaccines for Children Age 12 and Older
Starting today, May 14, Minnesotans age 12- through 17-years-old can get vaccinated at state sites that have Pfizer available: Bloomington (Mall of America), Saint Paul (Roy Wilkins Auditorium), Lino Lakes, and Oakdale.
Families in Greater Minnesota looking for a vaccine closer to home are encouraged to talk to their child’s health care provider, visit the state’s Find Vaccine Locations map, or go to Vaccines.gov to search for providers administering Pfizer vaccines.
We strongly encourage all our students ages 12 and up to get the Pfizer vaccine as soon as possible. Getting our students vaccinated will help keep us on track for a school experience that resembles what we are used to and will help protect those who are not yet able to be vaccinated, like younger siblings.
COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective in adolescents. Adolescents, like adults, may have some side effects after vaccination, which are normal signs that their body is building protection. If you have questions about COVID-19 vaccine, or any other vaccines your child may need, talk to your child’s health care provider.
A Reminder on Parental Consent:
- Parent or guardian consent is required for COVID-19 vaccination for people younger than 18 years old. Families are highly encouraged to join 12- through 17-year-olds and get vaccinated at the same time.
- For State Community Vaccination Clinics:
- 12- to 15-year-olds must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.
- 16- and 17-year-olds must receive permission from a parent or guardian, either in person through being accompanied by a parent or guardian, or online beforehand through the appointment scheduling and registration process.
- Families are highly encouraged to join 12- to 17-year-olds and get vaccinated at the same time.