Students in the Burnsville-Eagan-Savage School District will be required to wear masks at the start of the school year under a resolution adopted by district officials this month.
The Burnsville district joins Minneapolis Public Schools and St. Paul Public Schools in requiring all staff, students and visitors to wear masks inside district buildings regardless of vaccination status.
Burnsville's requirement will apply to students ages 3 and older.
Superintendent Theresa Battle, who recommended the masking policy to the school board on Aug. 12, cited rising case rates in both Dakota and Scott counties.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data also indicates "high" spread of the Delta variant throughout the Twin Cities metro.
During the recent school board meeting, board members expressed support and gratitude for Battle's recommendation and voted unanimously to adopt the masking policy.
"I know this is not an easy decision. I know this is a controversial decision. I also know it's the right decision," board member Scott Hume said.
The Burnsville district's stance on masking now sets it apart from neighboring districts in the south metro.
Officials in the Prior Lake-Savage Area Schools district and the Rosemount-Apple Valley-Eagan district have both said masks will be recommended for students, but not required, this fall.
Guidance from the Minnesota Department of Health states indoor masking is recommended for "all people in the school setting (ages 2 years and older)," regardless of vaccination status.
However, district officials maintain local control over whether or not to require masks in district policy, leading to some contentious arguments between parents and school administrators.
Art Coulson, a school board member in the Rosemount-Apple Valley-Eagan district, said during the Aug. 9 meeting he plans to continue advocating for the district to establish a mask mandate.
School begins in Coulson's district on Sept. 8. The Burnsville district's first day of school follows on Sept. 10.