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Gov. Walz makes stops in Olmsted and Freeborn Counties on statewide school tour

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Governor Tim Walz at Byron Primary School

BYRON, Minn. (KTTC) -- Governor Tim Walz is pushing Minnesotans to all do their parts in stopping the spread of COVID-19. The former teacher praised the efforts by local school districts to keep students safe Wednesday.

"If you're tired of this, if you're sick of this, if you're angry, I'm right there with you," Walz said.

Schools like Byron Primary have been finding ways of bringing students back in person safely.

"We're passionate about what we do. We want our kids to be here," said Byron Primary Principal Amanda Durnen. "The staff have gone above and beyond to make school fun and meaningful regardless of what our routines look like."

Other schools have been using unique ways of in-person learning, Albert Lea High School is offering some classes outdoors.

"It's part of that learning process. We can give them books. We can give them devices but if there's no interaction, it does nothing for the student," said Albert Lea principal Mark Grossklaus. "It's very detrimental."

Situations such as the one in Waseca County are cause for concern. The school district had to go back to distance learning from a hybrid model after an outbreak in cases.

"Opening is one thing. Staying open is another," the governor said.

Even with a few spikes in the state, the governor believes Minnesota is managing the pandemic better than surrounding states.

"We're at about 4.8 percent [COVID positivity rate]. We have done a fantastic job of starting to keep the curve flat for a long period of time," Walz said.

However, he says the state has a long way to go when it comes to disparities in education.

"If you're a child of color, specifically black, you'll get one of the worst," Walz said. "That's on me as governor and on us as a state to figure out how to do that."

While many urge him to give up emergency powers, the governor stands behind his decision along with his order to allow individual school districts to decide what is best for them.

"This is the right decision and it's because I trusted these people to do it. I have been in schools and around peers long enough to know that they would figure out how to do this," Walz said.

Despite school staff keeping students safe in their buildings, Walz says individual actions is what will stop the spread.

"Social distance, wear your mask and wash your hands," the governor said. "Those are much more effective than anything I can do."

The former Mankato West coach also discussed Minnesota high schools potentially playing football and volleyball this fall.

Here's a link to our full interview with Gov. Walz.

Alex Tejada

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