ST. PAUL, Minn. (KTTC) -- Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz announced that Minnesota schools will remain closed for the rest of the school year.
On March 15, Walz ordered all Minnesota K-12 public schools to close from March 18 through March 27. Since the closure, Minnesota schools have implemented "distance learning."
“As a former teacher, this is a heartbreaking decision,” Gov. Walz said in a news release. “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.”
Department of Education Commissioner Mary Ricker joined Walz Thursday during the daily 2 p.m. press conference to answer questions about schools closing for the year.
"My heart is really heavy today with this announcement because of how badly children want to connect with their friends and their educators in their school settings," Ricker said. "We want to support students and their families in a distance learning environment."
Walz also laid out a plan to allow certain non-critical businesses to open.
"Governor Walz today announced his decision to allow certain non-critical businesses to safely return to work. Developed in partnerships with hundreds of businesses, labor and worker organizations, and public health experts, this action will allow 80,000-100,000 Minnesotans to return to work in industrial, manufacturing, and office settings on Monday, April 27," the release said.
“This is a limited first step in the process of safely reopening some businesses and returning Minnesotans to work,” said Department of Employment and Economic Development Commissioner Steve Grove in the news release. “We will continue to listen to and seek input from business and community leaders and work with public health experts on creative solutions to put more people back to work as safely and quickly as possible.”
Riedell Skates President Bob Riegelman joined Walz during the Thursday press conference to talk about what it means to be able to get back to business while following the guidelines put in place.
"We are extremely excited, almost in tears, that with the partnership we are taking the right steps forward to opening our business," Riegelman said.
According to the news release, before loosening restrictions for a given setting, businesses must:
- Create, share, and implement a COVID-19 Preparedness Plan that sets out the actions they are taking to ensure social distancing, worker hygiene, and facility cleaning and disinfection necessary to keep workers safe
- Engage in health screening of employees and ensure that sick employees stay home
- Continue to work from home whenever possible
Visit here for more information about the process.
During the press conference Thursday, Walz was asked about the Minnesota State Fair and if it will be canceled due to COVID-19. Walz would not say definitively if the state fair will be cancelled, but stated that because of the mass congregation of people, that it is unlikely.
"At this point in time, I wouldn't make a definitive call, but I also don't want to give any false hope," Walz said. "I don't know how you'd social distance."