UPDATED: Governor orders all K-12 Minnesota schools to close by Wednesday
Local schools to meet Monday and Tuesday
March 13, 2020
All Minnesota K-12 schools will close by Wednesday, March 18 in response to the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, which has now been declared a worldwide pandemic.
Governor Tim Walz addressed the state this morning, announcing a statewide mandate that schools close their doors by March 18, to plan for moving instruction from the classroom to distance learning by Monday, March 30.
Schools have the option of closing Monday and Tuesday as well, but all schools must be closed by Wednesday, Walz said.
For most Minnesota schools, the closure mandate will lengthen existing spring break plans by a few days. In Cloquet, spring break was already scheduled for March 23-27. Cloquet Superintendent Michael Cary said he expects Cloquet schools to remain open Monday and Tuesday as of today.
"The governor's closure if for planning purposes, not because they believe there is an immediate health risk," Cary told the Pine Knot News. "It's preparation in case it becomes a larger risk that requires long-term shutdown."
Carlton Superintendent Gwen Carman said that Carlton schools will be in session Monday and Tuesday. Cromwell-Wright Superintendent Nathan Libbon said their school will also be open Monday and Tuesday. South Ridge is also open Monday and Tuesday, as is the Moose Lake school.
For many schools, this is the last week of the third quarter.
The governor stressed that the closure period is to allow for an orderly transition to distance learning, and noted that schools may want to use Monday and Tuesday to collect and distribute assignments and other resources. He did not say how long students might not physically go to school, but six weeks was one time frame that came up, as was the entire spring semester.
Walz and the Minnesota commissioners of education and health said this time is to be used for not only lesson planning, but also figuring out how students who rely on school lunches for nutrition will be fed, how special needs students will be served, how students without broadband internet will access learning, and more.
Schools are working with the state to provide childcare for first responders and healthcare workers. Childcare institutions are encouraged to stay open as well. And businesses that can have employees work from home are strongly encouraged to do that, while other businesses are asked to keep as many workers employed as possible and work in a flexible manner to allow them to also provide childcare if they have to.
Minnesota now has 35 confirmed cases of COVID-19, out of 1422 patients tested so far. That’s up from two a week ago, nine on Thursday, 14 on Friday and 21 yesterday. So far no cases have been confirmed in Carlton or St. Louis counties.
Repeatedly, Walz and others stressed that the closure of the schools is not because the disease is widespread yet, but rather to help schools plan for the inevitable closure in an orderly manner and to slow the transmission of the disease.
Also, the Minnesota State High School League announced Sunday that schools must halt all activity and athletic practices from Wednesday, March 18, 2020 through Friday, March 27, 2020:
• There will be no MSHSL activities and athletics at any member school.
o This includes all participation including, but not limited to training, practices, scrimmages, and contests.
o The previous MSHSL directive prohibiting scrimmages, contests and competitions with other MSHSL programs for Spring activities and athletics will continue until April 6, 2020.
People are encouraged to follow guidelines for social distances and personal hygiene, including staying home as much as you can, avoiding large gatherings, maintaining at least six feet between you and other people, handwashing with soap for at least 20 seconds frequently, not touching face with hands and more.
Look for ongoing updates to this story and and more official press releases to be posted this website as released, or check out the Minnesota Department of Education website at https://education.mn.gov/ and the Minnesota Department of Health website at https://www.health.state.mn.us/