Gov. Walz signs new executive order on summer learning

Thursday, Gov. Tim Walz signed Executive Order 20-57, authorizing and directing the commissioner of the Department of Education to provide a safe and effective summer learning environment for Minnesota's students.

A release from the Governor's Office states Minnesota's public school districts and charter schools will have the option to offer summer learning through a hybrid model of distance learning and in-school learning, or to continue distance learning.

“The safety and well-being of all Minnesotans is always our top priority,” Walz said in a statement. “By slowly turning the dial for school settings this summer, we can better serve Minnesota’s students and families, and provide more opportunities for the in-person learning and social interactions that are critical for learning.”

The executive order will offer schools flexibility for some in-person instruction if they are in compliance with Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) guidelines on masking, social distancing, personal hygiene, screening, and cleaning, and adhere to MDH's guidance for summer programs.

“As a parent of a young learner, I know that distance learning has been challenging for our students, families, and schools,” said Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan. “This executive order gives our schools the flexibility to meet the unique needs of individual learners and families this summer, especially those who have been most impacted by this pandemic and who need our support to stay on track.”

The public health guidance will help schools keep their students, their families, and school staff safe and healthy while offering meaningful learning opportunities. This model will give schools an opportunity to better support the students who have been struggling with distance learning, especially traditionally underserved students, according to the release.

“We know how important it is to ensure that all students are receiving the education that they deserve,” said Education Commissioner Mary Cathryn Ricker. “We also know that there are many students who are not being served well by distance learning, despite our most creative efforts. That is why we are excited to be able to offer some in-person learning opportunities for Minnesota students this summer.”

These public health guidelines will also apply to summer programming outside of a school setting.