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As SPPS considers mask requirements, parents reflect on sending kids back to school

Without a state mandate in place, each Minnesota school district is deciding whether or not to require face masks this fall.

ST PAUL, Minn. — The decision process is underway.

St. Paul Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Joe Gothard introduced a resolution Tuesday that would require masks for children ages 2 and up, staff and visitors inside buildings. The school board is slated to vote Aug. 17.

Meanwhile, Minneapolis Public Schools has already decided to require masks. Citing guidance from state health and education officials, the Anoka-Hennepin district announced it will not require them.

"Consistent with MDH and MDE recommendations, cloth face coverings or masks are recommended but not required," its website says.

As leaders weigh and announce options, parents are having to keep up with the developments just weeks before school.

Chris Pham has three children enrolled in Yinghua Academy, a full immersion Mandarin Chinese K-8 charter school located in Minneapolis. Masks will be required.

"For me it's mostly the lack of potential consistency," Pham said when asked about any concerns for the upcoming year. "It's like one week you might be in school every day. The next week they might decide to go remote. I think the school does an incredible job of switching gears and pivoting as needed, but as with anyone, once you get into a routine and then you're told you have to change this or that, I think that makes things difficult."

Farmington Area Public Schools, or ISD 192, says masks will be optional in district buildings, adding that the CDC and MDH recommend all people two years and older in a school setting wear a mask, including teachers, staff, students and visitors to schools, regardless of vaccination status. The district is requiring masks on all district provided transportation.

After opting to continue distance learning in spring, the children of Justice Sikakane Sr. will be back in person at North Trail Elementary this fall.

"I feel very comfortable honestly to be quite frank with you just given how transparent their school has been," Sikakane said. "The things that they've done proactively, the things that they've done reactively and how they continue to stay well-informed, while bringing us along for the ride and the 10,000 emails that come a week, you know?"

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