The Prior Lake-Savage Area School Board voted unanimously to update masking protocols Wednesday afternoon, now requiring students up to grade 8 to wear face masks indoors, reversing course on the Back-to-School Safe Learning Plan safety protocols put in place earlier this month.

For grades 9-12, indoor masking will continue to be recommended for all people in the high school setting including teachers, staff, students and visitors to schools, regardless of vaccination status.

According to a press release from PLSAS, indoor masking is required for all students in the early childhood through grade 8 school settings. Indoor masking is also required for all adults when working with or around students up to grade 8, regardless of vaccination status.

The decision is based on recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Minnesota Department of Health, stating that masking is an important way to help limit the spread of COVID-19.

According to MDH, the new Delta variant spreads about twice as easily from one person to another and masking will help protect children who cannot yet get vaccinated.

PLSAS stated it is increasing its mitigation efforts to ensure students remain in school, in-person, five days a week.

In addition, masks are required on all district-provided transportation which is a CDC requirement, regardless of vaccination status.

As per the CDC, masks are not required in outdoor settings but is recommended.

The PLSAS COVID-19 Incident Command Team will continue to meet with Scott County Public Health on a weekly basis to make adjustments to the Back-to-School Safe Learning Plan, if needed.

To guide decision-making, the district will monitor several data points, including Scott County case rate data, COVID-19 and influenza-like illness case rates in schools, operational logistics including staffing, future vaccine availability for children under the age of 12 and any updated masking guidance from public health officials.

Given the change in masking protocols for grades E-8, PLSAS extended its distance learning enrollment window for Laker Online until Friday, Aug. 27 at midnight — only for those who wish to change their current enrollment status.

Students will be heading back to school full-time and in person Sept. 8 for grades 6-12 and Sept. 10 for grades K-5.