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East Grand Forks School Board addresses parents' concern over mask mandates

A survey has been posted on the East Grand Forks School District website since June 21 and parents are still permitted to complete it.

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East Grand Forks Senior High School. File photo

The East Grand Forks School Board on Monday presented a survey asking for input on a “safe return to in-person learning plan.” The survey consisted of mostly mixed responses except for one aspect: masks, which are now an unpopular part of school life.

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The survey has been posted on the East Grand Forks School District website since June 21 and parents are still permitted to complete the survey. It asks one question: What suggestions do you have to improve our safe learning plan?
Ten of the 31 responses the board received before the start of the meeting involved a plea for the removal of mask mandates on campuses or on school buses.

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Of the 31 responses, 14 came from parents of children in either grades 3 or 5. One response came from someone who has no children currently enrolled in the East Grand Forks School District.

Other responses from the survey included requests for counselors and social workers for each school; provisions for vaccinated children to not be required to quarantine due to close contact unless they develop COVID-19 symptoms; less Chromebook usage; encouragement for eligible students to receive COVID-19 vaccines; smaller class sizes; and the designation of at least one class per grade for students with mandatory mask usage for parents whose students are under 12 years old and are not eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine.

East Grand Forks Superintendent Mike Kolness said he is aware of the sentiment regarding mask mandates, but that he and the board are waiting for more information to become available.

“Right now we’ve rescinded our masking policy that had been adopted last year, but right now we don’t have firm plans in place,” Kolness said. “It’s going to be dictated by what we get from the Department of Health. We have not received our updated guidance from the Department of Health or the Department of Education.”

Kolness said he hopes new guidance will be issued by the Department of Health in early August.

“That would give us some time to plan,” Kolness said. “I know the CDC just came out with new information over the weekend, but we have not received anything from the Department of Health for Minnesota. Once we get that information, then we’ll make some decisions on returning to school with no masks.”

In other business Monday:

  • The board approved the payment of K-12 bills in the total amount of $3,736,415 for the categories of general issues, food service, community education, building construction, debt service, community service and student activities. Of that, $2,042,702.50 is being distributed toward building construction -- the largest amount of any category.

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Mike Kolness
Mike Kolness

Mike Kolness
Mike Kolness

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