Updated: May 04, 2021 06:43 PM
Created: May 04, 2021 01:40 PM
Gov. Tim Walz continues to urge Minnesota lawmakers to approve funding for summer school programs to help students who fell behind with distance learning during the pandemic. The DFL-controlled House already approved the $150 million bill, but the Republican Senate has not.
"The legislature's down to two weeks and we tell our students not to procrastinate on their homework," Walz said during an appearance at Alice Smith Elementary School in Hopkins. "We are procrastinating on our homework. It's now time for us to move the summer learning plan."
Minnesota Education Commissioner Heather Mueller says the summer classes, field trips and preschool opportunities will help kids make up for lost time during the pandemic.
"We want to include opportunities to really reinforce learning for our students to provide continuity where there may have been some gaps in that," she said.
During the news conference Tuesday, the governor also said he hopes to make an announcement about loosening COVID restrictions.
"I think Minnesotans should start assuming they're going to have a very normal-looking summer," Walz said.
The governor didn't provide details but said talks are ongoing over what he will announce.
He did add, "Thursday's announcement should go a long way, I think, toward moving things forward."
Florida Gov. Ron Desantis lifted most of his state's COVID-19 restrictions on Monday and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo will lift most restrictions on May 19th. Walz says Minnesota will likely fall somewhere in between.
"It's going to be a little more the Minnesota way, but we'll get there. We're close," he said.
Walz said a small level of mitigation efforts will likely be needed to combat COVID-19 for a while, but noted that Minnesotans have followed the state's health guidelines and continue to get vaccinated, which means fewer restrictions are necessary.
He added that getting at least 70% of Minnesotans would be a large milestone in reopening the state and said he's confident the state will reach that mark eventually.
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