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Whether or not Minnesota schools should reopen for in-person learning is a controversial topic these days.

The American Association of Pediatrics is in favor of it. A recent AAP statement says, “The AAP strongly advocates that all policy considerations for the coming school year should start with the goal of having students physically present in school. The importance of in-person learning is well-documented, and there is already evidence of the negative impacts on children because of school closures in the spring of 2020.” 

The Minnesota Department of Education’s own survey found 64% of parents want students back in schools this fall. Nine out of 10 parents surveyed by Education Trust reported that they were worried about their child falling behind due to COVID-related closures.

However, Minnesota Governor Tim Walz has asked school administrators and teachers to come up with not one, but three plans by for how they might reopen this autumn: completely in-school, completely online, and a hybrid approach. Walz has indicated he will make a decision by Aug. 27 on how much he will allow school to reopen.

On Monday, Senate Republicans passed a resolution to allow school districts to decide the best option for their students this fall. Senator Gary Dahms of Redwood Falls criticized the idea of mandated online school this coming school year, saying, “When I look at the school districts within the area I represent, there is huge variety in size and need. The governor seems to think that whatever fits metro schools should fit our rural school districts at their expense. Rural kids’ education matters, too. These school districts are led by sharp community leaders, elected school board members, and strong school administrators who are used to making tough decisions. It’s time to recognize our local leadership, rather than allowing a unilateral dictate that could harm our local school districts.”