MPS lifts mask mandate in school


Ezra Gearhart

Junior Ingrid Noren is very excited to wear her mask.

Ezra Gearhart, Staff Writer

Last Thursday, the Minneapolis Public Schools district announced it would be lifting the mask mandate starting Monday, April 18. This move comes days after the St. Paul Public Schools district lifted their own mandate. District officials stated this is made possible by lower cases of COVID-19 in Minneapolis, even though cases have been rising statewide. 

The lift of the mandate also includes the end of contact tracing, contacting families after potential exposures, and the reduction of mandatory quarantine periods from 10 days to 5. Superintendent Ed Graff noted that the district is taking these measures in order to “maximize in-person learning.” 

South Student Ezra Kaner-Roth says that he first saw the news on instagram. He explained his reaction as “A little concerned, because Covid isn’t over and I know that there’s a 30% rise [in cases] right now. And I don’t think it’s safe for students to be unmasked, especially when we’re packed so tightly into classrooms.” 

Most people agreed that the majority of students would continue to mask. The South High  instagram account launched a poll asking followers if they would keep wearing masks. As of Monday morning, about 70% of respondents said they would. 11% said they were “Glad to lose it,” and about 20% said it would depend on the situation. 

Jeannine Erickson, the Writers Room manager at South emphasized the value in students making their own choices. She says, “Make decisions for yourselves, because you are young adults capable of critically reflective responses… You should think ‘Hmm, should I get all my information from my friend? Or should I educate myself on what’s happening with Covid?’”

The most diverse perspectives are on the question of whether or not we would see the mask mandate be reimplemented. South Engineering teacher Jesse Sirovy doesn’t think we will, because “The district doesn’t seem to be very quick to react to things. So I would imagine cases would really have to spike.” 

When asked about the future of the mask mandate, Erickson said “This is not sustainable. Cases will go up again, we’re probably going to see a forced shutdown like we did in January if people don’t respect the fact that Covid is not done.” She also remarked that “It’s also irresponsible because the people that are going to suffer the most are going to be the people that already have so many intersections of oppression and marginalization because the people that are dying at the highest rate from Covid right now are Black disabled people.”

South Student Leila Sundin also highlighted this inequity, stating “It feels disrespectful to our disabled community and the people who care for people who are disabled. It’s not really fair to them because it’s still not safe with or without the vaccine.”

Masking will likely continue to shift as case rates and students and staff’s views change. The decision goes into effect today, April 18th.