MINNEAPOLIS — Minneapolis Public Schools are pausing all in-person learning for the second half of next week in anticipation of a verdict in the Derek Chauvin trial.
Closing arguments are expected Monday in the trial, at which point jurors will be sequestered and begin deliberating. Chauvin is charged with second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in the May 25, 2020 death of George Floyd.
Minneapolis schools will close all in-person learning from Wednesday to Friday, April 21 through 23, in anticipation of the verdict. All grades will go to distance learning those days.
In an email to families, Superintendent Ed Graff wrote, "Our community is moving through an extraordinarily challenging time as we react to the killing of former MPS student Daunte Wright by a Brooklyn Center police officer, just as testimony in the trial of former officer Derek Chauvin in the death of George Floyd concludes and the case goes to the jury."
Graff wrote that the decision was made "after speaking with Hennepin County sources."
Local, state and federal law enforcement have spent the last year gearing up for potential civil unrest when the verdict comes down. Operation Safety Net could involve 2,000 National Guard soldiers and 1,100 law enforcement partners at its peak, according to Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey.
Tensions are already high in the Twin Cities metro after a Brooklyn Center police officer shot and killed 20-year-old Daunte Wright during a traffic stop Sunday. Wright's death prompted several days in a row of protests.
Officer Kim Potter, who is white, was charged with second-degree manslaughter for shooting and killing Wright, who is Black.
MPS noted that some students may participate in protests, and that racism may be "widely discussed" among students.
"As appropriate and as they are comfortable, teachers will give students the opportunity to process their feelings, how this feels to them personally and how they are impacted by having the eyes of the world on Minneapolis," Graff wrote. "Understanding that every educator will approach this differently, MPS has provided all educators with resources that are appropriate both to the age of the students being taught and the background and experience of the educator."
Plans may be adjusted if "trial activities change," according to Graff.