Governor Tim Walz said at his daily corona briefing yesterday that school buildings will remain closed for the rest of the school year. He also stated as of right now, he doesn’t know if distance learning will continue in the fall. Read more. National Public Radio published this article on what it may look like to reopen schools safely. Nine key ideas emerged through interviews with public health experts, education officials, and educators around the country.
With a little more than three weeks left before the end of session on May 18th, legislative activity is picking up.
The House Education Finance Committee heard HF116, which is a bill that allows school boards to renew expiring referendums. Eighty-one of the last 81 referendum renewal elections were successful. With this overwhelming support from voters, it seems a waste of resources to require the elections when those dollars could be put into the classroom. The bill most likely will not go anywhere this year as there is still not bipartisan support. Nevertheless, SEE will continue to advocate for this commonsense proposal in the future.
What could make it into law is the requirement that schools provide instruction on the dangers of vaping at least once to students during grades 6 through 8. The Senate Education Finance and Policy Committee is hearing the vaping bill (SF3184) today. The bill passed in the House policy committee, and it is waiting for action on the House floor. The Senate education is also hearing (SF3312), which expands the use of safe school revenue to include vaping detection equipment.
The full-service community schools bill (HF1013) was heard in the House Education Finance Committee, which provides grants for wrap-around services in the school building to support students and families living in poverty.
Right now, educators are focused on meeting the needs of all their students through a distance learning model. Many students in greater Minnesota don’t have reliable internet access at home to access online instructional material. Vulnerable students on the undesirable side of Minnesota’s achievement gap could slip further behind without the array of supports that were available in school buildings. Families are stressed with parents trying to work at home while supervising their children's education. Students struggle with being away from their friends, teachers, and activities, jeopardizing their well-being and mental health. Read more. Educators are trying to solve all these challenges, and more. The Governor and legislators need to work carefully to support Minnesota’s students, educators, and families without additional burdens during this very trying time.
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