Dear Friends and Neighbors,

I think Governor Walz finally realized that he will be responsible for the greatest increase in the state’s achievement gap, so earlier this week he announced his plan to get students back in the classroom.

I am not sure for the reason this process has taken much longer than needed because the science has been clear for months—from around the nation and world—that schools could open to in-person learning with little risk to children, staff, and teachers.

Ultimately, the plan is not a major shift from current practice and does nothing to incentivize local districts to reopen if they are currently in distance or hybrid learning. In addition, the Department of Education Deputy Commissioner admitted to the press that many schools may not be able to open for full school weeks right away.

Last week, I supported bringing a bill to the House floor that simply restores power to our local school districts to make decisions locally—to empower parents, teachers, superintendents, and locally-elected school boards to plan and decide what works best for their community. 

Sadly, this motion was voted down by the House Democrat majority.

Numerous pediatricians, epidemiologists, and other experts in the medical field have stated that our children can safely return to the classroom, and that continued closures are having devastating consequences that outweigh the risks especially for Minnesota’s most vulnerable students.

Read this article from the New York Times for more information from epidemiologists about safely reopening schools.

Here are some additional details about the governor’s announcement:

  • On February 22, middle schools and high schools may begin EITHER hybrid or in-person learning, if they are able to implement the additional mitigation strategies.
  • If a school with either a hybrid or in-person learning model sees five percent of students and staff sent home with influenza- or COVID-19-like illness within a single week, these schools are strongly encouraged to transition to a more restrictive learning model.
  • Students are encouraged to be tested every two-weeks.
  • Physical Distancing:
    • Elementary Schools: 3-feet strongly recommended, establish student cohort groups, limit mixing between cohorts.
    • Middle and High Schools: Must maintain 6-feet when feasible, otherwise no less than 3-feet.
    • Distancing limitations will not apply when the 14-day county case counts are 0 - 10 per 10,000.
  • Meal service for middle and high school:
    • Daily documentation of lunchroom seating for contact tracing.
    • Six feet distance strongly recommended.
    • Smaller student cohorts strongly recommended.
  • Continue monitoring public health situation within school buildings and follow guidelines on learning models.
  • Distance learning options still required for families that want students to be home.

Please be sure to reach out to me if you have any questions about how this might impact you, your family, and your local schools.

Staying in Touch

Please be sure to reach out to me if you have any questions or concerns. I can be reached by phone at 651-296-6746 or via email at rep.sondra.erickson@house.mn.

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