More than 90% of school districts in Minnesota are offering some form of in-person learning as of the March 8 deadline the state set for schools to offer an in-person option, Gov. Tim Walz said in a news release Monday.
“Across the state, Minnesota’s students are heading back to the classroom. As a former classroom teacher of more than 20 years and as a parent, I know how critical in-person learning is to a child’s wellbeing, and I am proud of this milestone,” Walz said in a statement.
Walz in December updated the state's Safe Learning Plan to allow every elementary school to return to in-person learning starting in January (previously, schools had to base their learning models on county infection rates). In February, Walz updated the plan again to get middle and high school students back into the classroom for hybrid or in-person learning, with precautions in place.
This came as the state prioritized educators and child care providers for the COVID-19 vaccine (55% have had at least one dose of the vaccine as of March 6).
“With more than 1 million Minnesotans vaccinated against COVID-19 and our students back in the classroom, the light at the end of this pandemic grows brighter every day," Walz said in the statement.
The state also launched a school COVID testing program where testing kits are sent to schools every two weeks so teachers and staff can get tested at no cost. Walz says 96% of public schools are participating in the program.
Meanwhile, the state encourages students and families who are doing any form of in-person learning or participating in sports or activities to get a COVID-19 test every two weeks, which can help identify cases early in hopes of limiting community spread (free testing can be found here).
The state's Safe Learning Model dashboard shows what learning model each district is doing. According to the dashboard, 9% of schools are doing distance learning, while 38% are full in-person learning, 11% are hybrid and 42% are of some combination of the three.