Minnesota schools can offer mix of in-school and distance learning this summer, order says

An executive order signed by Minnesota Governor Tim Walz will allow schools to provide a hybrid of distance and in-school learning over the summer.

Minnesota schools have been closed since March 18 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. In April, Walz ordered for distance learning to continue for the rest of the school year. However, as more businesses are being allowed to reopen, state officials are also reassessing schools.

Following state and federal health directives, the Minnesota Department of Education determined public and charter schools can reopen this summer for a "hybrid model" which has alternating schedules of in-person and distance learning. Schools that choose a hybrid model must follow public health guidelines, such as social distancing. 

“The safety and well-being of all Minnesotans is always our top priority,” said Governor Walz in the press release. “By slowly turning the dial for school settings this summer, we can better serve Minnesota’s students and families, and provide more opportunities for the in-person learning and social interactions that are critical for learning.”

“We know how important it is to ensure that all students are receiving the education that they deserve,” said Education Commissioner Mary Cathryn Ricker in a press release. “We also know that there are many students who are not being served well by distance learning, despite our most creative efforts. That is why we are excited to be able to offer some in-person learning opportunities for Minnesota students this summer.”

School leaders must notify the Department of Education of its choice between distance learning or the hybrid model at least one week before the summer instruction begins. The summer learning period would begin at the end of the school district's or charter school's 2019 - 2020 school year.

The order also asks for schools to continue care over the summer for children of essential workers.

As for when classes return in the fall, the order directs the education commissioner to develop an educational model that combines in-school and distance learning in case a traditional school year is not possible due to the coronavirus.