Minneapolis and St. Paul Public Schools are moving to bring back mask mandates for all staff, students and visitors regardless of whether individuals have received a COVID-19 vaccine.

Face coverings will be required in all Minneapolis school district buildings beginning Monday.

On Tuesday, St. Paul Superintendent Joe Gothard will present to school board members a mask mandate plan that would go into effect Aug. 18.

The action comes amid a surge in the delta variant of the virus that causes COVID-19. The mayors of Minneapolis and St. Paul recommended Tuesday that people return to wearing masks in public indoor spaces, and both cities are requiring masks be worn in city-owned buildings.

In a news release Thursday, Minneapolis Public Schools cited recommendations from the state Department of Health that point to masking as "a critical way to protect children who cannot yet get vaccinated, along with others who are not vaccinated."

State education officials also recommended last week that indoor mask-wearing be required for all students and teachers this fall.

Final decisions, however, belong to individual school districts.

St. Paul's mask requirement would apply to children ages 2 and older.

The school board is expected to vote on the measure Aug. 17.

Duluth Public Schools also is broadening its mask mandate. Currently, children ages 2 through fifth grade plus the staff who work with them must wear face coverings. Beginning Monday, masks will be required for all students, staff and visitors in the district's buildings, except those who are medically exempted.

The district plans to announce a final decision on its 2021-22 school year protocols by Aug. 24.

Anoka-Hennepin, the state's largest district, continues to recommend but not require face masks and will be posting back-to-school updates on its website at ahschools.us.

Spokesman Jim Skelly said the district's top goal is to "return to school with in-person instruction, five days a week."

Anthony Lonetree • 612-673-4109