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Coronavirus: Minnesota schools to stay closed for rest of academic year

Distance learning will remain in place until the summer break.

Minnesota's schools will stay closed until the end of the academic year amid the ongoing coronavirus outbreak.

The announcement was confirmed by Gov. Tim Walz at his 2 p.m. press conference, with school leaders across the state informed around lunchtime Thursday.

While Minnesota is expanding its testing capacity, social distancing needs to stay in place while the state gets a hold on the COVID-19 outbreak.

“As a former teacher, this is a heartbreaking decision,” Governor Walz said. “I am sorry for all of our students who will miss out on graduations, tournaments, and end of year celebrations.

"While I recognize distance learning is a challenge for many families, it is critical to social distancing in Minnesota and supports the health of Minnesota’s families. We will continue looking for ways to improve the current system and better support our children.”

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In-person classes have been canceled since Wednesday, Mar. 18, as part of wider social distancing rules put in place when just 77 cases of the coronavirus had been confirmed in the state. That number is now at 2,942 and rising.

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Schools have been carrying out distance learning since the end of the spring break, and that will now continue until the end of the academic year. The state's attainment tracking MCA and MTAS tests have already been canceled for this year.

It will come as a blow for all those graduating high school this year, as well as those involved in high school sports, with the closures coming just as the season was coming to its climax.

Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan added that efforts will be made to expand distance learning options to those struggling to access it, including low-income households, students of color, Native Americans, those in some rural areas, and those with disabilities.

"We can and must do more to ensure that every child is receiving the education they deserve and we will always put the safety and well-being of our families first," she said. 

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