MN schools closed through April. What 'Stay at Home' means for students, staff, online learning.Pioneer Press, St. Paul, Minn. — Josh Verges Pioneer Press, St. Paul, Minn.
March 26-- Mar. 26--Minnesota public school students face at least five more weeks away from school under new orders Wednesday from Gov. Tim Walz.
In an effort to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus, teachers across the state on Monday will begin implementing distance learning plans they've been developing since last week. Most students have been out of school and without teacher instruction since March 16.
Education Commissioner Mary Cathryn Ricker expects that when distance learning starts Monday, schools will meet the learning needs of all students, including English language learners, those on special-education plans and homeless students.
At the same time, schools must continue providing free meals on days when classes are scheduled, as well as offering on-site care for the children of workers in critical fields, such as healthcare.
Schools districts are to post their distance learning plans online by Friday.
At a minimum, according to Department of Education guidance, schools must provide "access to appropriate educational materials and ensuring (students) receive daily interaction with their licensed teacher(s)."
When Walz ordered all schools closed by March 18 because of COVID-19, school leaders were instructed to prepare for as many as eight weeks of distance learning. The governor's order covers the next five weeks, but the education commissioner has the power to extend that period.
For now, school employees are expected to report to work at their assigned buildings May 1 to prepare for a return to in-person instruction the following week. Until then, they'll largely be working from home.
Walz also has canceled standardized testing this spring. The U.S. Department of Education has said any state that wants a one-year waiver from the federally mandated tests should be able to get one.
Most Minnesota students will start distance learning on Monday, but the St. Paul and Minneapolis districts will begin one week later, after their scheduled spring breaks. They won't be handing out meals next week, but charities are expected to meet some of that need.
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