MINNESOTA -- With the 2021-2022 school year approaching, health officials are recommending new guidance for COVID-19 prevention in K-12 schools starting in the fall.
The prevention strategies and points are as follows:
- All people ages 12 years and older should get vaccinated for COVID-19 before returning to in-person school, sports, or other activities to protect themselves and people around them who cannot get vaccinated.
- All students, teachers, staff, and visitors in school buildings should wear masks indoors regardless of vaccination status in order to protect those who cannot yet be vaccinated or who remain at higher risk because of immune-comprised status or other conditions.
- Schools should maintain at least 3 feet of physical distance between students within classrooms whenever possible.
- Students, teachers, and staff should stay home if they have signs of any infectious illness, and should contact their health care provider for testing and care.
- Students, teachers, and staff who have been fully vaccinated do not need to stay home even if they have had recent close contact with a confirmed case so long as they remain asymptomatic and do not test positive. Follow CDC testing guidance for anyone exposed to a confirmed case.
- People who are not fully vaccinated and returning to in-person school, sports, or extracurricular activities (and their families) should get tested regularly for COVID-19 according to CDC guidance.
- Schools should continue to strengthen good ventilation, rapid and thorough contact tracing in combination with isolation and quarantine, handwashing, respiratory etiquette, cleaning, and disinfection as important layers of prevention to keep schools safe.
The Minnesota Department of Health released these practices as guidance, not mandates.
The goal is to support local school leadership for a safe return to in-person learning.
“In-person learning is critical, not only when it comes to academics, but also for our students’ social-emotional well-being and mental health," Minnesota Education Commissioner Dr. Heather Mueller said. "As we head back to school this fall, we must implement measures to protect the health and safety of all of our students, staff and families.”
Many of the basic mitigation measures are the same.
“Vaccination, masking, and physical distancing remain our best public health prevention strategies for slowing the spread of COVID-19,” Minnesota Health Commissioner Malcolm said. “The Delta variant is proving to have an alarming ability to spread more easily, so it’s more important than ever that anyone eligible for vaccination get that protection as soon as possible, and follow the CDC’s guidance for continued masking, distancing and other prevention strategies to help avoid the widespread illnesses and community impacts we saw during the last school year.”