Updated: July 31, 2020 06:01 AM
Created: July 31, 2020 05:59 AM
Districts across Minnesota are working on their plans for the start of the upcoming school year.
Gov. Tim Walz offered guidance for learning Thursday that essentially leaves decision-making up to individual school districts.
By Friday morning, some of the state's largest districts released additional details on how they are moving forward.
Both Minneapolis and St. Paul public schools, for example, will start the year with distancing learning.
For many school districts and parents, there are a lot of questions and factors to consider as they plan for back-to-school.
While some schools made their decision even before the governor's announcement, many others—including Anoka-Hennepin and Minnetonka school districts—are still undecided.
The governor has offered three different scenarios: Distance learning, in-person classes, or a hybrid of the two.
"If they come back and say, 'Hey we're going back to e-learning full-time,' for a lot of families, especially with both myself and my husband working full-time, I honestly don't know what we would do," parent Jennifer Pelstring said.
"This is a localized, data driven approach to making sure school districts where it is physically possible to teach our students we will do that," Walz said. "Where we use the data to drive that decision making, but understanding that country-level health data has to be coupled with what the physical plant looks like in that building."
Walz gave a formula for districts to look at based on how many cases per population that their county is seeing:
For those who live in a county with a high number of COVID-19 cases for the population, that school district will likely be starting the year with distance learning.
In areas with a low case number, kids could go back in school with just a few limitations, including mask-wearing and no large gatherings.
Anywhere in the middle will likely see a hybrid and that could look different for elementary students compared to high school students.
5 EYEWITNESS NEWS talked with Education Minnesota President Denise Specht. She said safety is still a big concern for educators.
"We want every school building to be safe for every teacher and staff person to learn and teach and work and we're going to do everything we can to make the changes that might be necessary for that to happen," Specht said.
The governor says schools will continue to work with state officials to decide whether they need to switch models during the year.
All schools must also provide a distance learning option for students, regardless of what model they choose.
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