Todd Sesker, Faribault Public Schools Superintendent told KDHL today during AM Minnesota at the Rice County Fair there will be no mask requirement for students, teachers or staff indoors this fall.

Earlier this week the American Academy of Pediatrics came out with a recommendation for universal masking in schools for everyone older than age 2.

The medical organization urged in-person learning for the fall.

"As we start the 2021-'22 school year, a large portion of students are not eligible to be vaccinated, and there are COVID variants that are more contagious,"  said Sonja O'Leary, chair of the AAP Council on School Health Executive Committee.

"Because of this and because we want to have all students in school, the AAP advocates for all students, teachers and staff to wear masks while indoors in school."

The organization is also urging anyone who is eligible to get vaccinated against COVID-19 to do so.

Sesker says, "My personal stance is everything should be done locally. I don't care if it's state legislation or federal legislation, we should have the most control over what our decisions are made. We do respect whatever comes down to us.  We're going to obey the law and obey the rules whatever they tell us, but as of now we are not going to require masks for kids and we're not going to require masks for staff."

"Actually if you talk to Northfield and Owatonna they are going to do the same thing we are. We're leaving those decisions up to the parents.  Making sure all our kids are still safe.  We want to do the best we can to mitigate it," Sesker added, "Even with our STEAM program (this summer) we've only had one case of COVID.  We've got between 450 and 500 students attending the program.  We haven't been requiring masks and haven't seen a lot of cases."

Joe Sage, new Faribault Middle School Principal was asked what he thought about masking, "We want our students and our staff, our number one priority is that they are safe.  So we're taking direction, which we trust, Mr. Sesker and the teams that are making these decisions"

Sesker pointed out if the variants skyrocket things could change by the end of August when school opens in Faribault.

Last year Faribault Public Schools hired a COVID Coordinator.  That position was changed to Health and Safety Coordinator for the district.

Sesker says, "We also have an incident command team within our group which involved the county public health which by the way Rice County has been just outstanding helping us guide through this whole pandemic.  That team looks at it,  examines the data carefully and makes a decision."

Sesker pointed out, "The school board has been kind enough to give us the leeway to make those decisions without having to go back to the school board and get approval for that."

"I'm really looking forward to a fairly normal start to the school year this year."

Sesker went on to say, "Keep in mind that the people getting sick, 95 percent of the people getting sick are those that are unvaccinated.  So please if you wanna keep kids in school unmasked, keep our athletics and all of our extra curricular activities going, band, choir, get a vaccine. "

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