Park doubles down on mask policies

Park reaffirms repercussions of not wearing a mask


Cole Taylor

Students sit in the lunchroom without masks Feb. 11. According to assistant principal Jessica Busse, Park’s mask consequence system follows a three-tiered approach.

Anya Panday

Park’s masking policies are being reasserted, with COVID-19 cases growing in our school district. In the Jan. 16th edition of the 6425 newsletter, a section regarding practicing appropriate masking was included. According to Assistant principal Jessica Busse, Park’s system regarding mask consequences system follows a three-tiered approach.

“We run on a three-strikes process in a few different levels. We give two warnings, then we move to the next level on the third warning,” Busse said. “First is a call home, then a mask contract and the third step is a dismissal from school for the day- which can escalate to more days out of school, with the end result potentially being a move to a virtual learning model through Eden Prairie online.”

According to civics teacher Emma Engebretson, in the 6425 section, reminders were given about students’ masking habits and reminded all students to cover their mouth and chin at all times — except in designated eating areas. Emma said teachers at Park are expected to handle the first tier of mask consequences – which includes giving out reminders to students and reporting students to higher-ups. 

“I give out the constant reminders about their masks and the impact while tagging in Mr. Nordstrom and other adults/family members for support,” Emma said.

We have to play our role in the community and (in) helping everyone be safe, and that is the responsibility of everybody.

— Jessica Busse

With the system’s centralized focus being students, Busse said most of, if not all, the responsibility falls on the students.

“They have all the responsibility because I can’t force you to wear a mask,” Busse said. “As the numbers go down, people get more and more comfortable — but we need to remember that even if we’re not protecting ourselves from COVID-19, we’re protecting ourselves from different other pieces, like the flu and the common cold.”

According to Emma, she shares similar sentiments when it comes to student responsibility. 

“They’re the ones in control of wearing or not wearing their masks, so they’re 100% responsible- and ideally, they’d all hold themselves accountable,” Emma said.

According to Busse, it’s not just about wearing a mask on your face —  but also how you wear it. Busse gave tips on how students can properly wear their masks,

“The huge part is covering your nose and mouth. There are some key tips to that; one is the pinched nose, (and) the other piece is twisting your ears, which keeps your mask on your face while giving you room to breathe,” Busse said.

There are things Park students can do to help mask consequences. According to Busse, if you see somebody without a mask properly on- there’s a simple way to ask them to fix it.

“Just remind them – the routine of reminding them, ‘hey pull up your mask, it’s to protect us,’” Busse said.

Emma said she shares similar sentiments about how peer accountability within Park’s student body should work,

“Asking/reminding people to please put up their masks is big, but also why. Why is it important? Why do we hold each other accountable? If they hear it from multiple people instead of just teachers, it starts to be like, ‘oh yeah, everyone does want me to wear a mask,’” Emma said.

According to freshman Sylvia Tolzin, Park’s system isn’t completely effective due to lack of enforcement.

“Our current system doesn’t affect students who don’t wear a mask. Some people in class eat or don’t have a mask on,” Tolzin said. “It’s hit or miss. Some teachers are strict about it, but others are more lenient.”

Emma said she is pleased as far as Park’s current system regarding mask repercussions. 

“I think we are doing our best to hold people accountable overall. It’s pretty effective,” Emma said. “We could always be better in holding each other accountable to wearing masks, but I think it’s working to the best the system can.”

Busse said she feels proud of all the students at Park adhering to the mask systems,

“I’m always proud when I see pictures of our students at games and events where our students are wearing masks; that always makes me proud to be an SLP Oriole,” Busse said. “We have to play our role in the community and (in) helping everyone be safe, and that is the responsibility of everybody.”