During a week filled with new mask mandates as well as vaccine requirements for both Essentia Health and St. Luke's, it probably comes as no shock that Duluth Public Schools have announced a new mask requirement that impacts all their buildings.

In a letter dated August 5, 2021, Duluth Public Schools Superintendent John Magas announced the new mask policy would be in effect beginning Monday, August 9.

The mask policy impacts all students age 2 and older as well as ISD 709 staff and any people visiting any Duluth Public School building. The mask policy will be in place for all regardless of vaccination status, unless medically exempted.

The letter opens with:

This message is to let you know our school district will require indoor mask wearing in all ISD 709 buildings beginning Monday August 9, 2021. Masks are already required for students age 2 to grade 5 and ISD 709 staff who work with those students. We are expanding mask wearing to all students age 2 and older, all ISD 709 employees and the public unless medically exempted, regardless of vaccination status.

This requirement runs until further notice and a final decision for the 2021-22 school year will be shared by August 24.

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Magas goes on to say that this new policy was put into place so that Duluth Public Schools are sure to be doing everything they can to ensure in-person learning for all students in the upcoming school year.

He adds that the policy was based on recent guidance from the Center For Disease Control, MN Department of  Health and MN Department of Education, which recommended all students, teachers, staff and visitors wear masks indoors regardless of vaccination status.

Masks will also continue to be required on school buses, which is a federal mandate.

While disappointing that we're at this point, it's not shocking. On the same day Duluth Public Schools announced their mask policy, Minneapolis Public Schools did the same and other school districts will likely follow suit.

The hope from health officials is that policies such as this, along with an increase in the number of people receiving the COVID-19 vaccine, we will be able to move past this latest surge in positive cases much quicker than was the case when the pandemic first hit.

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