Schools in Monticello and Big Lake will be among schools closing because of the COVID-19 virus.

Schools in both Monticello and Big Lake are closed immediately. Classes will not resume Monday following this past weekend break. The schools were already scheduled to close on Wednesday after Gov. Tim Walz issued a directive to Minnesota public school districts to close schools from Wednesday, March 18 to March 27 on Sunday, March 15.

Walz called the closure a time for school administrators to prepare plans for online learning options, as well as a time to work through the challenges of closing schools for an even longer period if deemed necessary.

“I am ordering the temporary closure of schools so educators can make plans to provide a safe learning environment for all Minnesota students during this pandemic. Closing schools is never an easy decision, but we need to make sure we have plans in place to educate and feed our kids regardless of what’s to come,” Walz stated in a press release.

The decision affects more than 850,000 K-12 students and more than 135,000 teachers and staff in public K-12 schools across the state, according to State officials.

Big Lake Schools will close two days prior to the Governor’s mandated closing date, beginning Monday, March 16.

Monticello's School Board held an emergency meeting Sunday afternoon, followed by an emergency meeting of school administrators. Superintendent Eric Olson said the school district would have a formally plan of action for school leading up to Spring Break, most likely by Sunday evening.

Monticello had Spring Break scheduled for March 23-27 during the Governor-imposed school-closing window. Big Lake’s Spring Break was scheduled for April 9-13.

Hours after the Governor’s press conference, Big Lake Schools issued a statement addressing the next few weeks of education within the District.

Monticello school district officials shared their plans following a 4 p.m. Sunday emergency school board meeting. School and community leaders then met from about 5:30 -9 p.m. to formulate an education plan, according to Supt. Eric Olson.

Olson said educators and students will have a trial run this week of the District's Digital At Home Learning program, a online school program the District has in place to use on snow days.

Teachers will be preparing education plans throughout the week. Students will check in with the schools using the digital at home learning program on Tuesday, Olson said.

In Big Lake, school officials stated that starting Monday, March 16 through Friday, March 27, Big Lake Schools will be closed and will provide no learning content to students. 

“These two weeks serve the purpose of allowing faculty time to prepare equitable, robust distance learning plans should there be a need to continue being closed past March 27,” school officials stated.

The Big Lake Kids Club/Hive Time programs will remain open to emergency workers, first responders and healthcare workers only. 

“We are open to anyone fitting this description whether or not you currently have a contract with us,” school district officials stated. Kids Club/Hive Time can be contacted at 763-262-8107 or ce@biglakeschools.org for further information.

As for meals, Big Lake officials are working on the logistics of providing meals to families. 

Editor

Jeff Hage is the managing editor of the Monticello Times. He majored in journalism at the University of Wisconsin- Eau Claire.

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