Calling it a “heartbreaking” decision, Gov. Tim Walz issued Executive Order 20-41, ordering all school buildings in Minnesota remained closed through the end of the 2019-2020 school year.
“This is not something that will define you,” he said to the Class of 2020, a group of thousands expected to graduate in mere weeks. “Instead, you will be feined by coming together and seeing the things that tie us together as a community and as a state. This breaks our heart.”
Walz issued an Executive Order on March 15, 2020, closing all school buildings as the state ramped up the fight against COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. That virus, he said, has now infected more than 2,000 Minnesotans and caused 200 deaths statewide as of Thursday, April 23.
School districts statewide have said they are prepared to continue distance learning through the end of the year – as they neared the end of the fourth week of the practice Thursday afternoon. Proms have been canceled regionally, and now, graduations will be in flux as the state continues to manage social distancing and stay healthy.
“The state’s announcement is intended to give parents and educators as much certainty as possible so they could plan and make decisions for the remainder of this academic year,” said Superintendent Dan Bittman of ISD 728 – Elk River area schools in a letter to parents and staff. “While this is not the outcome any of us wanted, we are thankful for the information and continued partnerships with various state, national, and community partners. ISD 728 plans to continue to provide such things as food service, childcare, and meaningful learning opportunities through distance learning for the remainder of the school year.”
Walz said perfections will need to be made within the distance learning process to make sure students are not left behind.
:Schools are community hubs for children and families,” he said. “As such, school closures put burdens on children and families and disproportionately impact communities of color, as well as indigenous, immigrant, and low-income families and communities. We thank school staff for their dedication to students. I call on school districts and charter schools to continue to prioritize innovation and direct outreach to students.”