**** Updated: March 27, 2020 ****
How are COVID-19 school closures in Minnesota and around the nation likely to impact our students who are already vulnerable and far behind academically?
We’ve pulled together this blog post to help you better understand what’s happening in real-time and offer some basic principles all of us can embrace as we continue to advocate for students.
We will be updating this post as the facts on the ground change, so check back often.
FAST FACTS: MINNESOTA SCHOOL CLOSURES
On Sunday, March 15, Governor Tim Walz issued an executive order closing all K-12 Minnesota schools Wednesday, March 18 through March 27. Distance learning begins on Monday, March 30.
Update: On March 25, Governor Walz extended K-12 school closures until May 4th. Distance learning will begin on March 30 as scheduled. The Minnesota Legislature passed a second COVID-19 bill on Thursday, March 27, but it does not include any provisions for K-12 education.
- Governor Walz Emergency Executive Order 20-02
- Minnesota Department of Education (MDE): COVID-19 Updates
- Minnesota Department of Health (MDH): Information For Schools and Child Care on COVID-19
What to expect:
Distance Learning: Schools are required to provide ongoing educational instruction through distance learning to every student. MDE is defining distance learning as “daily interaction between students and teachers,” and access to “appropriate, equitable, educational materials.”
Student Food Insecurity: Our public schools are on the frontlines of ensuring no kid goes hungry. School districts, nonprofits, and privately owned restaurants have been stepping up to fill the void left by the closure of school buildings, and the associated loss of school lunches. Click here for a map showing where you can find free children’s meals.
Supporting Essential Workers: In the midst of this unprecedented public health emergency, during the school closure period, public schools will provide child care for Minnesota’s Tier 1 and Tier 2 essential workers who are the parents of elementary school-aged children.
Legislative + Federal Action:
Minnesota: The Minnesota Legislature passed a second COVID-19 bill on Thursday, March 27, but, like the first one, it does not include any provisions for K-12 education.
Congress: The US House of Representatives passed a relief bill that features provisions for K-12 Public Schools including $50B directly provided to states to help stabilize school funding. The Senate bill, passed on March 25th, includes only $13.5B for K-12 schools, with the bulk of that money going to school districts based on the number of students that qualify for Title I federal aid.
Department of Education: The U.S. Department of Education announced broad flexibility for states in waiving federal testing requirements and clarified that federal law “should not be used to prevent schools from offering distance learning opportunities to all students, including students with disabilities.”