(St. Paul, MN) — In a press conference today (Thursday), Governor Tim Walz announced that school districts across the state will be allowed to determine their own individual paths to begin the upcoming school year, as long as the path adheres to the Safe Learning Plan for the 2020-2021 School Year which allows for three separate models, including distance learning, in-school, or a hybrid model. Each district’s individual plan will, and can be, affected by the COVID-19 numbers in their region.
Governor Walz said, “Circumstances may require turning the dial backward (less in-school instruction), or allow for turning the dial forward (more in-school instruction). While reopening school buildings for in-person instruction is our ultimate goal, and
we recognize that many children and families have experienced additional economic hardships, social isolation, and other stressors through distance learning, the main priority must continue to be the health, safety, and wellness of our students, staff, and community.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, our school districts and charter schools must continue to collaborate closely with MDE, MDH, and local public health authorities. To begin the 2020-21 school year, school districts and charter schools must implement an appropriate instructional model that adheres to parameters set forth in the Safe Learning Plan. The initial determination of which instructional model a district or charter school implements to start the 2020-21 school year must be made at least two weeks prior to the start of their respective school year calendar.”
“I direct MDH to update the Safe Learning Plan as needed to respond to the evolving
COVID-19 environment. Pursuant to MDE and MDH guidance, all districts and
charter schools must offer a distance learning model that meets the educational needs
of all students of families who choose not to receive in-person instruction. Consistent with MDH guidance and in consultation with local public health officials, MDH, and MDE to the extent possible, a district or charter school may dial back to an instructional model that is more restrictive than what is required under the Safe Learning Plan if the district or charter school determines that dialing back is necessary for a school building or particular grades of instruction.
If a district or charter school chooses to dial back to a more restrictive instructional model than what is required by the Safe Learning Plan, it must notify the Commissioner within 24 hours of implementing the more restrictive instructional model.
Pursuant to Minnesota Statutes 2019, section 12.21, subdivision 3(11), the
Commissioner is authorized to order a district or charter school to dial back to a more
restrictive instructional model if the Commissioner, in consultation with MDH and
the district or school, determines the instructional model being utilized by the district
or charter school is no longer appropriate pursuant to the Safe Learning Plan.
More restrictive models of instruction may be necessary for individual classrooms
within a school based on the circumstances. MDH will work in consultation with
MDE and schools to ensure clear public health guidance, notification, and processes
are implemented to protect the safety of students, staff, and the overall school