Minnesota's largest school district drops mask mandate for K-6 students

Kids wearing face masks exit a school bus.
Children exit a bus as younger students returned for in-person learning in January. Elementary school students in the Anoka-Hennepin School District will no longer be required to wear face masks beginning mid-January.
Christine T. Nguyen | MPR News file

Updated: 11:32 a.m.

Elementary school students in the Anoka-Hennepin School District will no longer be required to wear face masks beginning mid-January, the superintendent told the school board this week.

The state’s largest school district still recommends masking to help prevent person-to-person transmission of COVID-19, said Superintendent David Law. Masks will continue to be required on district school buses, according to federal mandate.

“Based on this information and the fact that our elementary can be vaccinated, we will be shifting to school and classroom-level data for masking decisions, shortly after break,” Law told board members Tuesday.

The policy is expected to start on Jan. 18.

The decision applies to everyone in the district school buildings, unless there is a high spread COVID-19 in a classroom or school building, he said.

Law told the school board that, although county case rates continue to climb, students are getting infected with the virus at much lower rates.

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“Our rationale in August was when our youngest students could get vaccinated, we would shift that back to what we’re doing at the secondary level,” he said.

On Wednesday, the state’s latest COVID-19 data suggested the surge from Thanksgiving gatherings is subsiding.

Still, the state crossed a difficult milestone Wednesday, tallying more than 10,000 pandemic deaths. Hospitalizations remain high.

Correction (Dec. 16, 2021): An earlier version of this story misidentified the starting date for the policy as the return date for school. The article has been updated.