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St. Paul School Board Votes To Keep Mask Mandate For Students, Staff

ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) - In a 3-2 vote, St. Paul public schools continued to be one of the only districts in the state to require mandatory masks for students and staff, going against the district's advice to make the practice optional.

Public comment from Tuesday night's board meeting in St. Paul lasted upwards of 30 minutes, with arguments both for and against the proposal.

The board was concerned how the move to make masks optional would impact students of color, who are vaccinated at a lower rate.

"I think it speaks to a lot of the concerns that some of us have up here about how this might impact folks disproportionately in our district," said Uriah Ward, a member of the St. Paul Public Schools Board.

Another concern was if the district could act fast enough should cases rise once again.

"My inclination in points like these is to make sure we're erring on the side of keeping people safe," said Ward on Tuesday.

The board's move is counter to CDC recommendations, which say masks should only be worn in areas with high COVID-19 case rates and hospitalizations.

St. Paul is now just one of 35 of the nation's 500 largest districts with a mandate in place. Minneapolis is the only other district in the state requiring students and staff to wear them.

Neither the district or any of the five board members responded to a request for comment from WCCO-TV.

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