Thursday, January 27, 2022


The Owatonna School District will require masks in every building starting tomorrow, Wednesday, regardless of vaccination status.
The universal masking mandate was announced Tuesday and will last two weeks, until Jan. 26, when it will be reassessed to determine if the mandate needs to be extended.
The move comes at a time when COVID-19 is surging in Minnesota and its schools, driven by the highly transmissible omicron variant.
The Owatonna School District is no exception, with "a rise in the number of influenza-like illness symptoms and positive COVID cases reported, leading us to implement the next mitigation step," according to an email from Superintendent Jeff Elstad.
He asked parents and guardians to "pay attention to further updates which may require a switch to distance learning for a building or buildings within the district, based on staffing shortages."
People attending sporting events or other school activities are also required to wear a mask during the two-week mandate.
Also on Tuesday, Governor Tim Walz announced a new vaccine incentive, offering $200 in Visa gift cards for families who get their children aged 5-11 fully vaccinated in January and February. The money will be distributed when the kids have completed their two-dose series.
Currently, just 26% of children in the state aged 5-11 have been fully vaccinated against the virus.
*Blooming Prairie, Medford and NRHEG public school districts all continue to have a mask recommendation, but no requirement.
"We're prepared to move to a mandate if the numbers call for it," said Medford Superintendent Mark Ristau, "but we're just taking it day by day."



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Steele County Times

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Blooming Prairie, MN 55917

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