Minnesota Promises Late July Decision on K-12 Schools
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Minnesota health and education officials on Thursday asked school administrators to plan for three scenarios on reopening in the fall and promised a decision by the week of July 27 on which of the three will be used.
K-12 schools will be restarted under the cloud of the coronavirus. The state Health and Education departments asked administrators to prepare for in-person learning for all students; hybrid learning with social distancing and capacity limits; and distance learning only.
“Decisions around the fall may change as we learn more about which scenario will be in the best interest of public health, and specifically the health and safety of our school communities,” the Department of Health said in a statement that included a link to a 16-page document guiding schools.
The Department of Education published a more extensive 100-page document.
Deputy Commissioner Heather Mueller was to join the Minnesota Department of Health officials at an afternoon briefing to discuss the guidance.
Republicans quickly criticized the state for waiting until late July to make a decision. Rep. Ron Kresha of Little Falls and Rep. Sondra Erickson of Princeton, the GOP leads on a pair of education committees, said in a statement that locally elected school boards and superintendents should be allowed to “chart the best path forward.”
“Let’s let our local schools take the lead so our students and their families have the clarity they need for the fall,” they said.
The numbers of new virus cases and hospitalizations in Minnesota have been leveling off lately.
Gov. Tim Walz gave the order in mid-March for Minnesota public and charter schools to close and switch to distance learning as coronavirus cases were just starting to show up in the state. That order affected nearly 900,000 students and their families. The governor followed his school closure order with a statewide stay-at-home order later in March.
The governor later extended the closure through the school year and essentially banned large-scale high school and college graduation ceremonies for the class of 2020 as the number of coronavirus cases in Minnesota grew.