Masks will be required in all Red Wing district buildings and vehicles as voted 5-2 during Monday night’s School Board meeting.
This decision comes right after the Goodhue County Health and Human Services announced that there are currently 168 active COVID-19 positive cases -- which is up by 70 in the last week.
The special meeting Aug. 23 was conducted due to three failed motions last week where board members couldn’t agree on a masking policy. During the week that followed, board members received more than 100 emails from parents and Board member Jennifer Tift said 112 were from families that supported masking while 26 were from those that did not.
“Last week at our meeting, it sure felt like there was an overwhelming number of people that didn’t support the mandate because our room was filled with those people,” Tift said. “But our emails are showing that our families are asking for a mask mandate.”
Board members Anna Ostendorf and Tift both agreed that listening to COVID-19 scientific experts -- by requiring masks -- is necessary to keep students safe and conducting in-person learning.
The passed masking policy requires students E-12 to wear a mask in all district buildings and vehicles. Students do not need to mask while outdoors.
District staff and visitors also must wear masks starting Aug. 30, when teachers report to buildings. Students will report Sept. 7.
Superintendent Karsten Anderson explained that while creating the masking policy, he consulted guidance from the Red Wing School District COVID Response Team, building leaders, district leaders, parents, other districts’ plans, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Minnesota State Department of Health, Minnesota Department of Education and Goodhue County Health and Human Services.
Board members also discussed quarantine options and unanimously voted that any E-12 student in close contact with an infected person would not need to quarantine if both parties were masked. Infected individuals will have to isolate at home.
Parents will be notified that their student is a close contact and it will be up to the parents’ discretion to take further action.
However, if E-6 students were not masking properly they will be required to be quarantined for seven days with a negative PCR test result or 14 days without a test. The policy is stricter for this age group because children under age 12 are not eligible for COVID-19 vaccination.
Anderson will bring forth a plan of action that describes the criteria for when masks are no longer necessary to the board’s Sept. 7 meeting.