ST. CHARLES — Dig out those masks for elementary school students in St. Charles.

On Sunday, the St. Charles School Board approved a two-week mask mandate for students and staff at the district's elementary school.

"We had to call the meeting because it was important for us to have the conversation," said Superintendent Jeff Apse.

Apse said there were six confirmed COVID-19 cases at the elementary school within the last week. The Minnesota Department of Health advises that five COVID-19 cases within two weeks can indicate an outbreak of the disease within a population.

The district has had one confirmed case at the middle school/high school.

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The mask mandate, which started Monday and is scheduled to end at the end of the school day on Oct. 1, applies only at the elementary school.

"We're keeping tabs on vaccination data in the community, too," Apse said. "We’ll continue to monitor the data. But it was important we put a start and end date that are specific on this."

In a letter emailed to district households Sunday night, the district outlined its masking policy, which runs from 7:45 a.m. to 3 p.m. during regular daily operations. Masks are not required during outdoor activities.

All participants in before- and after-school programs, including School Age Childcare and other community education activities sponsored by the school district where students younger than 12 may be participating, must wear face coverings when indoors.

Staff and students can remove masks while eating or drinking, and staff working alone in a room or office can remove their masks.

Masks must fit securely. Neck gaiters that are double-layered and cover both the mouth and nose are allowed. Bandanas, scarves and masks with valves are not allowed. Face shields are allowed only for staff who have been vaccinated and are providing instruction.

Children younger than 2 are exempt from any mask requirement prescribed by the school district.

Individuals who cannot wear a face covering due to medical/cognitive/developmental reasons may also be exempt from any mask requirement, but must discuss their proposed exemption with their building principal. Documentation from a medical provider may be required.