Minnesota daycares, childcare centers urged to stay open during COVID-19 school closings

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz announced the closure of all K-12 public schools statewide Sunday morning, but urged daycares and childcare centers to remain open during the closings. 

Walz announced plans to close Minnesota's K-12 public schools from Wednesday to Friday, March 27 in order to combat COVID-19.

During the address, Walz announced that Minnesota now has 35 confirmed cases of the new coronavirus statewide. 

He and Education Commissioner Mary Cathryn Ricker said keeping other childcare centers open is important to helping families navigate the K-12 closures. 

“My top priority as Governor is the safety of Minnesotans. As a former teacher, and father of two teenage kids, I’m especially focused on the safety of our children.” said Governor Walz. “I am ordering the temporary closure of schools so educators can make plans to provide a safe learning environment for all Minnesota students during this pandemic. Closing schools is never an easy decision, but we need to make sure we have plans in place to educate and feed our kids regardless of what’s to come.”

The executive order requires the schools to provide care for elementary-age children of health care professionals, first responders and other emergency workers during previously planned school days to help those workers stay on the job and help fight the coronavirus outbreak. 

“There is nothing more important than the health, safety, and well-being of Minnesotans,” said Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan. “This decision was made with children and families in mind, as well as our educators, to best support our schools and educational system in the weeks and months ahead and make sure that we have a plan in place for our kids who rely on school for meals and other critical needs.”

In addition, the executive order helps provide mental health services continuity and provides meals to students in need during the school closures. 

“The safety and well-being of our students is always our top priority,” said MDE Commissioner Mary Cathryn Ricker.  “That is why we are committed to creating an education delivery model that can sustain learning, no matter the circumstances. Minnesota has long valued education and we will continue to work with our school leaders to ensure that our students continue to receive the education they need and deserve. Educators are caring, creative people and I am confident they are going to work to meet the needs of our students in these extraordinary times.”