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'Relatively strong possibility' students don't return to school for 2019-20 year in Minnesota

The governor is not optimistic about the chances of returning to in-person classes.

Schools are closed in Minnesota through at least May 4 as teachers continue to instruct through online distance learning, but Gov. Tim Walz expressed doubt Thursday that students and faculty will be able to meet in person again this school year because of the COVID-19 outbreak. 

Gov. Walz said "in all candidness" that "it's a relatively strong possibility" that in-person classes are done for the year, reiterating his point by saying "I think the chance of being able to gather back at school is relatively slim." 

MCA testing and the alternative assessment Minnesota Test of Academic Skills (MTAS) were officially canceled statewide earlier this week. Those cancellations came on the heels of all school sports and activities through the Minnesota State High School League being postponed until further notice. 

"This is heartbreaking. We have a whole generation missing out," said Gov. Walz. "We would've seen state track records fall, we would've seen perfect baseball and softball seasons, but we're not going to." 

In terms of what the pandemic means for the graduating Class of 2020, the education department plans to support creative ways schools can honor students who are graduating. 

"Whether it's done online, whether students are standing in their driveway and people in the neighborhood can come out and clap and celebrate," said Kathy Mueller, education department commissioner. 

"Our schools and our school districts have been giving a lot of thought to this and they know their school community and we're going to engage with them in those conversations when the time comes."

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