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Rochester, MN (KROC AM News) - It appears Rochester Public Schools will follow the lead of Mayo Clinic, local governments, and others and require face masks in all its buildings.

Interim Superintendent Kent Pekel will present that and other Covid-related recommendations to the School Board Tuesday.

The face mask mandate would require “all students older than two years of age as well as all staff and all other adults to wear face coverings inside all facilities and on all forms of transportation.”

RPS YouTube

Pekel is also recommending but not requiring the use of masks while outdoors on RPS property.

He is also proposing the development of “an anonymous and optional process through which staff, volunteers and community providers will be asked to report and verify their vaccine status. RPS will also develop an anonymous and optional process through which parents and guardians will be asked to report and verify the vaccine status of their children.”

 

RPS adopted a different policy last month that had a different face mask mandate.

Here is Pekel's complete list of recommendations:

With that summary of the board’s process to date as background, here are the major components of Rochester Public Schools’ strategy for keeping our students and schools safe from COVID-19 during the 2021-2022 school year. The points summarized below are outlined in greater detail in the 2021-2022 RPS Safe and Open Schools Plan, a draft of which is being shared with the School Board and the RPS community with this memo. We will announce ways for members of the RPS community to provide feedback on the plan at the School Board meeting on August 17. I also look forward to sharing more information on the reasons for my recommendations and decisions at the School Board meeting next week.

  • 1. I recommend that the School Board revise Policy 808 to require all students older than two years of age as well as all staff and all other adults to wear face coverings inside all RPS facilities and on all forms of transportation. I propose that our policy recommend but not require masks outdoors on RPS grounds.
  • 2. RPS will develop an anonymous and optional process through which staff, volunteers and community providers will be asked to report and verify their vaccine status. RPS will also develop an anonymous and optional process through which parents and guardians will be asked to report and verify the vaccine status of their children. The information we gain through this process will enable us to adjust the mask requirement and other elements of our policy based upon actual vaccination rates in RPS schools rather than rates across Olmsted County as a whole.
  • 3. We will partner with Olmsted County to operate vaccination clinics at our school sites whenever doing so is likely to increase vaccination rates among students, staff, and community members.
  • 4. We will structure environments to allow for three feet or more of social distance between all people in RPS facilities
  • 5. We will welcome visitors, including parents and essential community providers and volunteers into our schools as long as they adhere to requirements for wearing masks, maintaining social distance, and other relevant provisions of the RPS Safe and Open Schools Plan.
  • 6. We will offer a full range of extracurricular activities as long as all participants in those activities as well as coaches and advisors adhere to requirements for wearing masks, maintaining social distance, and other relevant provisions of the RPS Safe and Open Schools Plan. Unless the recommendations of the Minnesota State High School League contradict the provisions of the RPS Safe and Open Schools Plan, we will adhere to the Leagues recommendations as outlined here:
    https://www.mshsl.org/sites/default/files/2021-08/2021_2022-covid-guidance.pdf
  • 7. We will conduct field trips as long as students and staff adhere to adhere to requirements for wearing masks, maintaining social distance, and other relevant provisions of the RPS Safe and Open Schools Plan throughout those field trips. We will not conduct overnight field trips at this time.
  • 8. School sites may hold and determine the number of participants in all group gatherings, such as school assemblies and faculty meetings, as long as they adhere to requirements for wearing masks, maintaining social distance, and other relevant provisions of the RPS Safe and Open Schools Plan during the gatherings.
  • 9. Substitute teachers will be welcome to teach at any school or program in the district as long as they adhere to requirements for wearing masks, maintaining social distance, and other relevant provisions of the RPS Safe and Open Schools Plan while they are working in an RPS school.
  • 10. We will maintain the effective processes for sanitation and ventilation that were implemented throughout the district during the 2020-2021 school year.
  • 11. We will follow the same testing procedures that were utilized during the 2020- 2021 school year for offering screening testing to staff and students to identify
    asymptomatic infected individuals. We found that use of these procedures helped prevent further transmission in school settings. Those procedures will be updated if and when new guidance is released by the Minnesota Department of Education.
  • 12. We will continue to offer students and staff shortened quarantine options as outlined by the Minnesota Department of Health. Quarantine plans for providing students with instruction during quarantine are under development and will be released before September 7, 2021.
  • 13. To inform the ongoing implementation of this strategy, we will continually review and prioritize guidance on COVID-19 mitigation strategies from the following organizations and individual experts at these four organizations: The Centers for Disease Control, the Minnesota Department of Public Health, Olmsted County Public Health Services, the Minnesota Department of Education, and the Mayo Clinic.

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