Today, Governor Tim Walz and Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan, along with the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) and the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH), announced Minnesota’s Safe Learning Plan for the 2020-21 School Year.
School districts and charter schools will begin in one of three models: in-person, distance learning, or a hybrid model. Experts at the Departments of Health and Education will partner with local school districts and charter schools to help determine which learning model they should use to start the school year.
The decision-making process centers on the health, safety, and wellbeing of our students, staff, and families by using the level of viral activity in the surrounding county and other factors such as the district’s ability to meet mitigation requirements. The learning model decision will be announced by the local school district.
“As a classroom teacher for more than 20 years and a parent of a child in public schools, I am committed to providing a world-class education to our students while keeping them and their teachers safe,” said Governor Walz. “With this approach, we are pairing the knowledge and data from our Departments of Health and Education with the expertise of our local school districts to make the best decisions for our students across the state.”
The Departments of Education and Health will work with school districts and local health professionals throughout the school year to help districts decide if and when they need to dial between learning models depending on the progression and cause of the virus in their specific community. When switching between learning models, the plan prioritizes keeping younger children in the classroom, understanding that transmission is less likely for younger children and that in-person learning is particularly critical at their developmental stage.
The Governor is also requiring school districts and charter schools to give families the option to choose distance learning for their student no matter which learning model their school district is implementing. Additionally, the Governor is requiring school districts to allow teachers and school employees to work remotely to the extent possible.
More than $430 million in federal funding to help schools, educators, students, and families has been sent out. An addition $250 million will:
- Provide face coverings for every student, educator, and staff member;
- Deploy a comprehensive COVID testing plan for educators and staff members;
- Help cover operational costs, like cleaning supplies, transportation, technology needs, and Wi-Fi access;
- Boost student, family, and educator support, like digital navigation trainings, tutors, translation services, mental health support, and professional development.
According to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, the Safe Learning Plan is 21 pages long. The website for the plan was down as of 2:30 p.m. The Star-Tribune said that to fully reopen, a county would need to have fewer than 9 cases of the virus per 10,000 residents over a 14-day period.
Aitkin County was, as of Thursday morning, at 25 confirmed total cases since the tracking began in March.