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Albert Lea school district outlines COVID plans for upcoming school year

Albert Lea Area Schools is recommending, but not requiring, masks for staff and students not fully vaccinated for COVID-19 during the upcoming school year. 

The school district shared information about plans for the school year Thursday afternoon. Plans include everything from mask use to transportation, quarantines and vaccines. 

The face mask recommendation would apply for staff and students from early childhood through 12th grade, citing the large percentage of people in the state who are vaccinated and low positive case count in Freeborn County. 

“Mask wearing will be a choice of the individual employee, and we encourage families to make decisions based upon the best interest of their children,” the district said. “If the COVID-19 virus begins to spread, the district may adjust this procedure at the building or district level as local conditions warrant.”

Masks will still be required on school buses, per federal government regulations. 

The district stated it will follow guidance from the Minnesota Department of Health for unvaccinated individuals exposed to a person who has tested positive. Currently, that means a quarantine for seven days with a negative COVID-19 PCR test or 10 days without a test. 

People who are fully vaccinated will not need to quarantine. 

The district stated for people considering a vaccination, they are encouraged to schedule a time soon to be fully vaccinated before the start of school. 

Mayo Clinic Health System in Albert Lea is conducting free vaccine clinics from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Tuesdays and from 11 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. on Thursdays. To schedule an appointment, people should call 507-434-9929, or they can schedule through Patient Online Services on the health system website. Vaccinations may also be available at local pharmacies. 

The district stated it is still accepting applications for its online learning academy through Aug. 1. For more information, call 507-379-5153.