Governor Walz to announce that school districts must offer distance learning this fall

With Governor Walz preparing to address what schools will do in the fall, News Talk 830 WCCO political analyst Blois Olson has learned distance learning will be required to be offered.

Olson says that Governor Walz is expected to announce that the ultimate decision of how children learn this fall will be left up to the districts but distance learning will need to be offered to families and students who want it.

Walz also will expects that any in-person learning will be done with the required COVID-19 safety plans as set by the state. These safety measures include social distancing and masks. He will also make it clear that districts can implement even stricter guidelines if they'd like, but the state requirements will be the minimum. 

According to Olson, the goal for the governor is that kids are in school as much as possible. Parents and others who wanted a clear answer will have to wait for individual districts to detail plans before they know for certain how back-to-school will work. The districts will be able to request help from the Minnesota Department of Education and the Minnesota Department of Health.

Ultimately, it will be up to the districts to communicate their plans with their families.

Governor Walz has said numerous times since the start of the pandemic that he is using data and science to make most of his decisions. Both the MDE and the MDH will be given tasks throughout the school year. The Department of Education will allow districts to find the right balance of in-class, distance-learning or hybrid models based on the model that fits the individual district. 

However, the Department of Health will begin to monitor local cases on a two-week rolling average, which could create a state guideline causing closures. 

People briefed on the plan called it a matrix that will allow school districts flexibility and the state a structure for safety and outbreak management.  If cases in a specific community spike, schools could be ordered back to distance learning by the state.

News Talk 830 WCCO will be updating this story throughout the day. You can watch Governor Walz's announcement on Facebook or Twitter or by listening to 830 AM.