Mar 23, 2022 - COVID

St. Paul schools to keep mask mandate in place

Illustration of an apple wearing a covid mask.
Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Masks will stay on in St. Paul Public Schools.

Driving the news: The city's school board voted Tuesday night to continue a mask mandate for students and staff, The Pioneer Press reports.

  • The 3-2 vote bucked the superintendent's recommendation to lift the requirement as long as case levels remain low.

The big picture: St. Paul is one of the few remaining large school districts in the country still holding out after the CDC updated its masking guidance.

  • Ramsey County's current level of COVD transmission is "low," meaning the federal health agency doesn't recommend indoor mask mandates.

Zoom out: About 92% of school districts no longer require face coverings, according to Burbio, which tracks mask and COVID policies at the nation's 500 largest districts.

Zoom in: Many school districts in Minnesota have made masks optional.

  • Minneapolis Public Schools also has a mandate in place, but students remain home due to the teacher strike.

What they're saying: Supporters of lifting the mandate argued that low case counts and calls from parents to make masks optional should drive decisions.

But Uriah Ward, a board member who voted to keep masks, expressed concerns about lower vaccination rates among students of color, per the Pioneer Press.

  • "I don’t think there’s an easy answer on this,” he said. “My inclination has been to err on the side of keeping people safe.”

Of note: Two school board members were absent for Tuesday's vote, per the Star Tribune.

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