In a letter to staff and families on Wednesday, Sept. 29, Pequot Lakes Interim Superintendent Kurt Stumpf announced that the district would relax its mask policy after 14 days of requiring all middle- and high-school staff to wear masks, as well as all high school students.

Masks are still required for all staff members until 3:15 p.m., but masks are now “strongly recommended” for all students.

KN95 and surgical masks have been made available to both groups. Students are encouraged to stop by their respective school office for a mask if they need one.

The district implemented its 14-day mask mandate on Tuesday, Sept. 14, after nine active cases of COVID-19 were reported in the high school, with some other symptomatic individuals undergoing testing.

From Sunday, Sept. 19 to Saturday, Sept. 25, the district reported 40 cases of COVID-19 in the district, including 22 in the high school.

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In addition to masks, school offices also have BinaxNOW over-the-counter at-home tests available for students. These are rapid-antigen COVID-19 tests that use a nasal swab.

These mitigation measures were decided upon based on a number of factors, including the acquisition of masks from Crow Wing County Public Health, fewer students and staff within their 10-day isolation period and a majority of cases being due to family exposure as opposed to in-school exposure.

“Our families have done an outstanding job communicating positive cases of COVID-19,” Stumpf said in the letter. “This collaboration will be vital throughout the school year.”

Additional lunchroom space has been added for high school students, while breakfast and lunch will be in classrooms at Eagle View Elementary School.

Stumpf also asked that families inform the school nurse of all positive cases in the household, and to have children stay home if any symptom is observed.