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MN school closure starts on Wednesday; 35 cases of COVID-19

Schools will be closed to students beginning Wednesday, March 18 through Friday, March 27.

MINNEAPOLIS — Governor Tim Walz has signed an executive order that authorizes the temporary closure of Minnesota K-12 public schools to students in order for the schools to make plans during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

At Sunday morning's news conference in St. Paul, Gov. Walz announced that schools will be closed to students from Wednesday, March 18 through Friday, March 27.

Some schools are closing earlier. St. Paul Schools are closing on Monday, according to a tweet from Dr. Joe Gothard, Superintendent of Saint Paul Public Schools.

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Wayzata and Minnetonka schools are also expected to close on Monday.

Minneapolis schools will be open Monday but closing on Tuesday, according to Minneapolis Public Schools.

Anoka-Hennepin Schools are in spring break and will continue to be temporarily closed through March 27. 

Rosemount-Apple Valley-Eagan Schools are closing beginning Monday through March 30.

At Sunday morning's news conference, Gov. Walz said that child care centers, including school-based child care centers and daycares will remain open. 

"No group of people I would want more on the front lines of this than the educators across the state to bring Minnesota through this," said Gov. Walz.

"We are not accommodating for a couple snow days, we are planning for the potential for weeks of distance learning," Minnesota Education Commissioner, Mary Cathryn Ricker.

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At the start of the news conference, Gov. Walz announced that the presumptive cases of corona virus in Minnesota is now at 35.

“My top priority as Governor is the safety of Minnesotans. As a former teacher, and father of two teenage kids, I’m especially focused on the safety of our children.” said Governor Walz. “I am ordering the temporary closure of schools so educators can make plans to provide a safe learning environment for all Minnesota students during this pandemic. Closing schools is never an easy decision, but we need to make sure we have plans in place to educate and feed our kids regardless of what’s to come.” 

The executive order requires schools to provide care for elementary-age children of health care professionals, first responders, and other emergency workers during previously planned school days.

"There is nothing more important than the health, safety, and well-being of Minnesotans," said Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan. "This decision was made with children and families in mind, as well as our educators, to best support our schools and educational system in the weeks and months ahead and make sure that we have a plan in place for our kids who rely on school for meals and other critical needs."

The executive order will also continue mental health services and requires schools to continue providing meals to students in need.

"The safety and well-being of our students is always our top priority," said MDE Commissioner Mary Cathryn Ricker.  "That is why we are committed to creating an education delivery model that can sustain learning, no matter the circumstances. Minnesota has long valued education and we will continue to work with our school leaders to ensure that our students continue to receive the education they need and deserve. Educators are caring, creative people and I am confident they are going to work to meet the needs of our students in these extraordinary times."

More information on the coronavirus: 

KARE 11’s coverage of the coronavirus is rooted in Facts, not Fear. Visit kare11.com/coronavirus for comprehensive coverage, find out what you need to know about the Midwest specifically, learn more about the symptoms, and keep tabs on the cases around the world here. Have a question? Text it to us at 763-797-7215.

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.

MDH has a hotline for school and childcare questions: 651-297-1304