Suing for a mask mandate

Has Minnesota’s health policy become politicized? Apparently, yes. Last year Gov. Tim Walz asked for and received approval for emergency powers that allowed him to issue rules to slow the spread of COVID-19 infections in the state. They were widespread and very impactful. Restaurants, bars and health clubs were ordered to close. People were told to work from home where possible. People were ordered to wear masks in public places, including schools. The state had all kinds of directives for spacing and sanitizing in schools, and for when schools had to go to distance learning.

The rules were criticized by Republicans as too draconian, and they tried and failed month after month to revoke the governor’s emergency powers, even removing a few state commissioners from their posts as a rebuke to the governor.

Earlier this summer the governor ended the state of emergency as the infection rates fell.

But now, as infection rates are rising, Walz is reluctant to resume the kind of control he had last year. With schools starting, there is no statewide mandate that says school districts have to enforce mask regulations. There are probably many districts that would benefit from such a mandate, but in many districts, including New Ulm, school boards run the risk of irritating anti-maskers and anti-vaxxers if they consider such a move.

It has come to the point where a parents group has filed suit in Ramsey County asking the court to order Gov. Walz to mandate mask wearing in schools, so that students can be “allowed to attend schools that provide a healthy and safe environment.”

We’d like to hear what Republican legislators, who are busy lining up their runs for the governor’s race, are willing to do to advance the safety of school children in the state.


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