Debate over in-person learning continues in Minnesota

Created: July 14, 2020 06:44 AM

As COVID-19 cases surge across the nation, debate over whether to allow kids back in school classrooms this fall continues in Minnesota.

5 EYEWITNESS NEWS talked with the president of Education Minnesota, a Minnesota teacher's union, about the looming decision.

Education Minnesota reacts to push by Republican lawmakers for in-person school this fall

Like Gov. Tim Walz and some Republican leaders, Education Minnesota President Denise Specht said no one likes distance learning, but it's something that they had to do in order to keep everyone safe this past spring.

Health experts are pushing for a more flexible model this fall, including a mix of in-person and distance learning.

COVID-19 Briefing: Virus surge among young Minnesotans, discussion as new school year approaches

President Donald Trump is calling for schools to reopen, but the debate has many parents considering the risks their kids could face by returning to the classroom.

Specht said she wants health officials to give guidance before anything else.

"Educators want the people who do health and science to be making those decisions and then when it comes to local control after that, of course we want decisions that are educationally sound to be done by the people who are closest to the students themselves," Specht said. "I do think there's absolutely room for if (a) community isn't seeing any cases, they should be open; if another community has a spike, they should be making some other consideration."

In some European countries, schools are bringing the youngest learners and those with the most challenges back to the buildings.

That's something Specht said she would support if done safely.

Last week, Walz said he plans to give more guidance as soon as Wednesday, with a final decision by July 27.

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