Courtesy of: Fargo Public Schools
Courtesy of: Fargo Public Schools

(Fargo, ND) -- Fargo Public Schools announced on Tuesday that the mask mandate will be changed to a "Strong Recommendation" for all students, staff, and visitors of all Fargo Public School buildings starting Jan. 17, 2022. 

The change in policy comes from a letter written by Fargo Cass Public Health (FCPH). The Fargo School Board, who determine if a mask mandate is in place for their schools, has sought guidance from FCPH since the beginning of the 2021 school year. The letter describes that the primary reasoning for the change is due to the availability of COVID-19 vaccines for children aged 5-11. Shortly afterwards, Fargo Public Schools announced the change in policy starting in mid January. 

FCPH recommends the mandate ends on January 17th because "This date allows time for 5-11 year olds to be fully vaccinated, and an adequate time frame to monitor and identify exposures and new cases following the holiday break, where many are traveling and gathering with others."

The letter also describes possible scenarios which may delay the change in masking policy. Those items include...

- A new COVID variant which is widely circulating and not responding to vaccines.
- Substantial community case increases, with a concern on hospital capacity.
- Substantial school outbreaks causing interruption to instruction due to staffing issues or a lack of students. 

The change does not apply to riders and drivers of FPS transportation, like school or activity buses, due to a federal requirement. 

You can read the full letter and recommendation by Fargo Cass Public Health here.