By Caroline Cummings

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Gov. Tim Walz welcomed students back to school Wednesday morning at Jefferson Elementary School in Rochester.

Kids under 12 aren’t yet eligible for the vaccine, like many kids at the school. And although masks are required in this district, that’s not the case everywhere.

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It’s a district-by-district decision on whether to implement mask requirements, require vaccines, or routine testing for staff. 

St. Paul Public Schools, the second-largest district in Minnesota, voted for shots or weekly testing last week, one of the first few to do so. 

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Walz says he is concerned about a patchwork approach to schools but says he has no plans to instill another state of emergency, which would give him the powers that allowed for mask mandates. 

“It wouldn’t hold, I would lose that authority. It would hold for 29 days and the legislature will not do that,” said Walz. “My hope is there is enough pressure from parents. There’s enough pressure from science, there’s enough pressure from folks who understand this.”

Republicans angling to unseat Walz next year are sharply critical of how he handled the pandemic, teeing it up to be a central campaign issue.

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Walz says he welcomes that challenge.

Caroline Cummings