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Not willing to wear a mask to the meeting? Don't come back for 1 year, says Rochester School Board

"If you don’t want to wear a mask, don’t be here. Watch the meeting from home and email your thoughts to board members. Or call. Or write a letter. We’ll respond," said board Chairwoman Jean Marvin.

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Rochester School Board members Melissa Amundsen, left, and Julie Workman during a Rochester School Board meeting Tuesday, July 27, 2021, at Rochester Public School's Edison Administration Building in Rochester. Joe Ahlquist / Post Bulletin
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ROCHESTER, Minn. — Anyone who refuses to comply with the mask mandate during Rochester School Board meetings will be barred from again entering a school building for one year, according to a new stance from the school district.

Board Chairwoman Jean Marvin read a statement from the board about the decision Tuesday, Sept. 21. It is a significant advance in the board's resolve to enforce its mask policy, which has been repeatedly challenged during recent meetings.

The purpose of school board meetings is the "importance of quality education for all students," Marvin said at the beginning of the statement.

"Anything that happens during these meetings that draws attention away from that focus is taking attention away from children and their education. Our kids and their futures are just too important for us to let that continue," Marvin read. "If you don’t want to wear a mask, don’t be here. Watch the meeting from home and email your thoughts to board members. Or call. Or write a letter. We’ll respond."

Although there are exceptions, the school district's current policy states that masks are required by all individuals older than 2 while they are in any building owned by the district.

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The statement also clarified that anyone not willing to comply with the mandate would be escorted from the building by police officers, if necessary.

At the previous school board meeting, Marvin recessed the proceedings for 30 minutes because there were audience members unwilling to wear masks. During that same meeting, members of the public argued with school officials at the entrance about whether or not they had to wear masks in order to enter the building.

"We have implemented a policy that is very easy to understand," Marvin read from the statement. "Starting tonight, if you choose not to wear an appropriate mask while you’re in this building, and when approached by an administrator, you refuse to comply with their request to mask, you will be trespassed."

Jordan Shearer covers K-12 education for the Post Bulletin. A Rochester native, he graduated from Bemidji State University in 2013 before heading out to write for a small newsroom in the boonies of western Nebraska. Bringing things full circle, he returned to Rochester in 2020 just shy of a decade after leaving. Readers can reach Jordan at 507-285-7710 or jshearer@postbulletin.com.
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