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Minneapolis school board votes against distance learning resolution

Gov. Tim Walz, Minnesota Board of Education are are scheduled to announce statewide guidance on Thursday.

MINNEAPOLIS — The Minneapolis Board of Education voted against a resolution which called for starting the 2020-21 school year with distance learning.

Only last week, Minneapolis Schools Superintendent Ed Graff told KARE 11 the school system intended to start with distance learning. This was based on several factors, including over-enrollment, the staffing needed to safely operate under health guidelines, and the layout of the district's buildings.

"There's a high, high desire for us to be in either a distance learning mode or hybrid mode," Graff had said. He continues to support a distance learning model employing the use of "dials" that can be turned up to eventually include various levels of hybrid learning and possibly a full return to school if public health and safety guidance allows for it. 

But, now, the board is going to wait to make that call until they receive guidance from the Walz Administration expected Thurday.

The split among the board was not over distance learning, but that the vote was simply too early, citing a need for the governor to weigh in.

"We need the Governor and the Department of Education ... their authority does supersede ours, so we have to wait," said Board Director Jenny Arneson.

The proposed resolution cited the COVID-19 pandemic as a threat to the health of students, staff and communities, and notes the "unprecedented uncertainty" and challenges generated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

"I just don't want to go to bed one night and wake up to find out we've got people all across the city sick ... I'm sorry, I'm just not going to be party to that," said board member Ira Jourdain, who voted for the resolution to commence distance learning for Minneapolis schools. 

The vote comes just two days before Governor Walz and the Minnesota Department of Education are scheduled to announce statewide guidance for the upcoming school year.

Credit: Minneapolis Public Schools
The Minneapolis Public School "dial" for returning to in-person learning.

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