Area school districts are weighing their options in the wake of Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz’s announcement Thursday about the upcoming school year.Local district boards, adminstration, faculty ,communities and families will try to work things out before the school year begins in September.

Under new Minnesota guidelines released on Thursday, July 30, schools should examine the last 14 days of new COVID-19 cases in their county when considering which learning model they should employ. The base learning model is based on new cases per 10,000 county residents. For instance, if the new case rate is under 10, schools should consider offering in-person instruction for all students. However, several other factors should be considered. Schools will have the option to change their learning model throughout the school year.

Walz said that under his plan, public and charter schools throughout the state will begin the year in one of three models: in-person, distance learning or a hybrid. He also is requiring schools to give families the option to choose distance learning for their student, no matter which learning model a district implements. Teachers and school employees also will be given the option to work remotely. Governor Tim Walz says Minnesota school districts would work with state officials to evaluate local spread of COVID and preparedness, before deciding whether students are back in the classroom this fall, or distance learning continues, or a combination of the two.

Walz says the state will also work with school districts to determine if they need to “dial between” the various learning methods, depending on the progression of COVID in their particular community. “This plan alone won’t work if community spread accelerates,” the governor said. “This plan won’t work if people choose to gather in large groups and we get it if it’s asymptomatic. And what that will end up doing is, it will end up impacting our children. And again, it’s not their fault. COVID’s not their fault.”