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UPDATED: Walz to leave decision on school year to districts

UPDATED: Walz to leave decision on school year to districts Photo: State of Minnesota

Updated: July 30, 2020 02:10 PM

Gov. Tim Walz will allow individual school districts to decide how they want to approach the 2020 school year amid the COVID-19 pandemic. 

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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

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. 

State health and education officials asked school administrators last month to prepare for three scenarios before Walz's announcement: distance learning, in-person learning or a hybrid model. The guidance comes as President Donald Trump has pressed schools nationwide to open for in-person learning, and as many teachers have expressed fears of doing so.

Education Minnesota, the state teachers’ union, last week released a survey with just one in five teachers supporting in-person learning.

RELATEDPerspective from the Duluth Federation of Teachers

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Copyright 2020 WDIO-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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