Gov. Tim Walz has ordered the closure of Minnesota schools for the remainder of the academic year.
Walz made the COVID-19-related announcement during a 2 p.m. news conference today.
The governor closed public and charter schools just over a month ago and directed them to switch to distance learning, a move that affected nearly 900,000 students and their families.
Walz’s original school closure order had been due to expire next Thursday, but he had said in recent days that he was likely to extend the shutdown through the rest of the school year.
Other state officials attending the news conference were Department of Employment and Economic Development Commissioner Steve Grove, Department of Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm, Department of Labor and Industry Commissioner Nancy Leppink and Department of Education Commissioner Mary Cathryn Ricker.
Walz announced that distance learning will continue through the rest of the 2019-2020 school calendar year. His stay home order remains in effect until May 4.
The state continues to pursue opportunities to expand technology for students, provide guidance for educators on how to best connect with students, and support families.
“As a former teacher, this is a heartbreaking decision,” Walz said. “I am sorry for all of our students who will miss out on graduations, tournaments, and end of year celebrations. While I recognize distance learning is a challenge for many families, it is critical to social distancing in Minnesota and supports the health of Minnesota’s families. We will continue looking for ways to improve the current system and better support our children.”
“Distance learning has created new challenges for all of us, but especially students of color, Native Americans, students in Greater Minnesota, students with disabilities, and low-income families, among others,” Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan added in an emailed statement.“Students are missing their friends and routines, and families are struggling to work while helping their young learners. We can and must do more to ensure that every child is receiving the education they deserve and we will always put the safety and well-being of our families first.”
This is a breaking news story. Watch the Union-Times website for updates and additional information from local school districts.