School board meetings across Minnesota have gathered larger than normal crowds in recent weeks. As students, staff, parents and communities wait for the return to school and an answer to the question, do we need a mask or not? 

Students at Moose Lake Community School are recommended, but not required to wear masks in school buildings. Masks are required on the school bus.

Concerned parents and grandparents gathered in the Moose Lake School Auditorium to share their thoughts about a mask requirement at Moose Lake Community School. 

Members of the public were allowed to share their thoughts with the board during the public participation portion of the regular board meeting. Several speakers mentioned that they would have preferred to make their statements after hearing the thoughts of the board. 

The focus of all discussion about masking came from the goal of keeping students safe. A majority of the parents present questioned the effectiveness of masks in protecting students from COVID-19. 

At this time the decision for requiring or recommending masks has been left up to school districts. Boards across the state have been tasked with looking at current recommendations and determining which pieces to adopt. The Minnesota School Board Association provided a sample resolution on health and safety measures, specifically focusing on masking. Moose Lake passed this resolution after considerable discussion. 

Masks are recommended, but not required for all staff, students and visitors to district buildings. Center for Disease Control requirements make masks required on school buses as public forms of transportation. 

Board chair Steven Blondo stressed that the resolution recommending masks should be taken as a strongly encouraged recommendation. Jerry Pederson, board member, made clear that the expections for student safety were not a one way street. Pederson questioned how the board would work to prevent parents from sending students with COVID-19 to school and not following guidelines.

All members of the board clarified that this decision was based on the current information and could quickly change if case numbers increased or more guidance was provided. 

As part of the discussion the board determined that they would like to see some form of decision making tool created to help them move forward. Defining levels of risk from COVID-19 and the need to change or implement practices and protocols at the school was one area none of the board members felt comfortable tackling alone. More research on what area schools, other districts and Carlton and Pine County  are doing is going to be gathered to create these levels. A meeting of Carlton County school superintendents and Carlton County Public Health for help is taking place this week. Moose Lake Board members hop this meeting sheds more light on what changes the 2021-2022 school year might bring.  

Moose Lake students will start the year with no mask requirement. 

Other news

The Moose Lake Parent Teacher Association was once again able to purchase school supplies for all students. 

According to Minnesota Department of Eduction guidelines the adult lunch price was set at $4.25. Students will receive free lunch at school once again this academic year. 

Student Handbooks were updated for the upcoming school year. Changes were basic updates to phone numbers, room numbers, and teachers names. 

The Data Team for Moose Lake School will begin working on a presentation of student’s Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment testing for the October school board meeting. 

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