Minnesota schools cope with closures during COVID-19 outbreak

Schools are getting ready to close after Minnesota Governor Tim Walz announced the state would cancel school for nearly two weeks starting this Wednesday.

Outside Minneapolis’ Washburn High School, there was uncertainty about the weeks ahead - and some anxiety about attending one last day of class in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

“I was concerned about coming to school,” one student said. “The likelihood of someone in Washburn having it is very low, [but] I feel safer at my house.”

The governor gave districts across the state until Wednesday to shut down, allowing educators to focus on developing distance learning plans.

While many districts elected to shut down immediately, Minneapolis brought students and staff into schools for one last day to prepare for what could be a lengthy period out of the classroom.

“Sometimes you have to make lemonade from lemons. The situation is what it is; I think we need to make the best of it, and I hope that teachers will make engaging for kids. Honestly, I don’t know if there’s a choice,” said Becca Voss, a parent in St. Louis Park.

Meanwhile, pre-schools and childcare facilities will remain open to help families and communities during this unprecedented moment. However, there will be immediate changes to keep the young children and educators safe.

Some of those measures include a premium placed on handwashing for the smallest kids, limits to how much time parents can spend in classrooms and a laser focus on the health of the children and staff.

“Childcare providers are already very good about disinfecting their programs and keeping them very safe. It’s an essential part of how we offer services, so we’ll be really intentional about that right now,” said Think Small Senior VP Cisa Keller.