Governor Tim Walz says Minnesota school districts would work with state officials to evaluate local spread of COVID and preparedness, before deciding whether students are back in the classroom this fall, or distance learning continues, or a combination of the two. And Walz says the state will also work with school districts to determine if they need to “dial between” the various learning methods, depending on the progression of COVID in their particular community. “This plan alone won’t work if community spread accelerates,” the governor said. “This plan won’t work if people choose to gather in large groups and we get it if it’s asymptomatic. And what that will end up doing is, it will end up impacting our children. And again, it’s not their fault. COVID’s not their fault.”
The governor is also requiring school districts and charter schools give families the option of distance learning, regardless of what learning method those schools are using.
The Walz administration says its plan preserves local control by school districts, but Republican Senator Carla Nelson from Rochester questions that. “Everybody believes that more guidance, more science is important,” Nelson says. “But… the governor’s comments, the comments from his staff, make me very concerned about whether it’s guidance or a mandate.”
One of the key determinants of whether a school district would fully re-open with in-person classes, or retain some distance learning, would be the percentage of residents in the county who have tested positive for COVID-19.