Minneapolis Public Schools to 'pause' some in-person supports, continue distance learning

The logo for Minneapolis Public Schools. (FOX 9)

As community spread of COVID-19 increases, Minneapolis Public Schools will be continuing distance learning, but will also be dialing back from some of the in-person support services it had recently started at some schools, district officials announced Monday.

Last month, Minneapolis Public Schools moved into "Phase 2+" of its five-phase plan and started some in-person support and afterschool tutoring at six of its schools for about 250 students. MPS Superintendent Ed Graff says those support services are now on hold.

"The recent significant rise in COVID-19 rates requires that we pause those efforts and, essentially, we are going to move our dial back," said Graff.

The district will continue to operate at Phase 2, which includes essential school-age care for families and a limited amount of staff in the buildings. Under this "pause" in the plan, afterschool community education services will also be temporarily discontinued. Athletic practices and games, however, will continue to follow the district and Minnesota State High School League's COVID plans. 

Graff said at one point district leaders had hoped to move into Phase 3 of its plan, which would have allowed for some hybrid learning as early as Monday, but the COVID-19 case rates in the community are too high.

Rochelle Cox, the MPS associate superintendent, said the city of Minneapolis is above the threshold of 50 positive cases per 10,000 people and it's unclear how long the district will remain in Phase 2. 

"We are advised by our regional support team that we must get well below the 50 cases by 10,000 mark, then stay there for three to five days," said Cox. "From there the support team is recommending a waiting period of 28 days. That's two incubation periods to ensure that the rates have stabilized."

Graff said the district's five-phase safe learning plan and Governor Tim Walz's latest executive order, which allows in-person instruction for special needs students, will be further discussed as the school board's meeting on Tuesday.