ROSEVILLE, Minn. — After a chorus of concerns raised by Minnesota families, the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) is opening a hotline to take questions and address concerns about the continuation of distance learning for the rest of the school year.
Before MDE leaders announced the new hotline, Minnesota students and teachers voiced concerns about the way distance learning is widening educational disparities and causing some to lose connections.
"Sometimes I get frustrated because I get disconnected from the internet when I'm trying to finish my assignments," said Claire Murphy, a fifth grader in St Paul.
"Some students do not have the privilege or have the ability to have quiet space simply to study," said Lap Nguyen, a high school senior from Rochester.
MDE Commissioner Mary Cathryn Ricker says families concerned about distance learning should first contact their school, but if they have questions or concerns that can't be addressed, they can also reach out to the state directly.
MDE DISTANCE LEARNING RESOURCES:
"I want families to know that your voices and experiences matter and we want to keep hearing them," Ricker said.
Governor Tim Walz and Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan say the decision to keep school closed through the end of the year was necessary to keep the community safe, but they say efforts are being made to ensure students and families are supported and recognized for their sacrifice.
"I know these are hard conversations but that's what Minnesotans do," Walz said. "We have hard conversations and then we find solutions."
"To every student, to every teacher and every caregiver, every parent, I know you are doing your absolute best and that's all that we can do," Flanagan said. "Thank you."
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The state of Minnesota has set up a hotline for general questions about coronavirus at 651-201-3920 or 1-800-657-3903, available 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
There is also a data portal online at mn.gov/covid19.