Minnesota school closures effective March 18 through March 27

Governor signs Executive Order March 15

Isabel Kjaer and Talia Lissauer

This story is accurate as of 10:00 a.m. March 15.

In response to COVID-19, Governor Walz directed the Commissioner of Education to close schools starting March 18 and ending March 27 through Executive Order 20-02.

“School closures put burdens on children and families and create disproportionate impacts on different communities,” Walz said in a statement. “For that reason, we must ensure that schools and school districts continue to provide support to Minnesota families, even while students are not in the classroom.”

Walz said he hopes schools will use this time to plan for safer education in the coming weeks.

“The Closure Period is meant to provide time for our schools to adequately plan for continuity of education during the COVID-19 pandemic for the purpose of preserving the health, safety, and lives of Minnesota’s students, educators, and the broader public,” Walz said in the statement.

The number of school days required in the 2019-2020 year will be reduced in response to COVID-19, according to the statement.

“Nothing in this provision should be construed to require districts to make-up instructional time lost during the Closure Period,” the statement said.

According to the statement, school districts are to use guidance from the Minnesota Department of Health and Minnesota Department of Education to provide care for children in low-income families, children under 12 and children of emergency health workers.

“Schools are directed to provide care to, at a minimum, district-enrolled students aged 12 and under who are children of emergency workers,” Walz said in the statement. “In providing this care, schools must practice hygiene and social distancing best practices.”

The Executive Order is effective immediately and will continue to be in effect until the peacetime emergency that was declared March 13 is terminated or proper authority says otherwise, according to the statement.

As of 10 a.m. March 15, Minnesota has 35 confirmed cases of COVID-19.

Echo will continue to update as the situation unfolds.