Lifting of mask rules doesn’t apply to all

THIS SIGN on the door to Subway reminds patrons to wear their masks, even though mask restrictions have been lifted. However, if you don’t have a mask on, you can still enter the building. Photo / Per Peterson

By Per Peterson

The light at the end of the COVID-19 tunnel is getting brighter, but it’s unlikely things will change at schools in Tracy and surrounding areas.

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz last Thursday announced an end of Minnesota’s statewide mask requirement, aligning Minnesota with new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance on face coverings. However, Minnesotans who are not fully vaccinated are strongly recommended to wear face coverings indoors. The governor’s latest Executive Order went into effect Friday after it was approved by the Minnesota Executive Council.

Private businesses and local municipalities can still continue with their current face covering requirements, and Minnesota’s Safe Learning Plan, along with the existing face covering guidance for schools and child care settings, remain in effect.

“This great day is possible because vaccines have proven to be effective,” Walz said in a news release last week. “Once you are fully vaccinated you are protected. You can confidently return to the people you love and things that you miss – all without a mask.  The message is clear — get vaccinated and let’s put the pandemic behind us once and for all.”

According to the CDC, in general, people are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after their second dose in a two-dose series (Pfizer or Moderna), or two weeks after a single-dose vaccine (Johnson & Johnson).

The CDC has yet to provide clear guidance for schools and has said it expects to update guidance for children in school and summer camps soon.

Since there is just over one week of student contact days left in the Tracy Public School District, plus one teacher day, it is unlikely the current mask mandate on campuses will be lifted at either public school. Tracy Area High School Principal Kathy Vondracek said she was grateful for the lifting of the mask mandate, but wasn’t sure how it would affect schools.

“I wish they would’ve addressed it (at the news conference),” said Vondracek. “The CDC mandate is for vaccinated people, and not even all our staff is vaccinated — by choice, and that’s OK. Our senior class, I believe, have had their first dose, which is great. Most if not all of our seniors are 18.”

See this week’s Headlight Herald for more on this article.