Sen. Nelson: Guidance on re-opening schools is the right choice, but late decision is disappointing

Senate Education Committee Chairwoman Carla Nelson (R-Rochester) today issued the following statement in response to Gov. Tim Walz’s announcement providing guidance to schools on re-opening.

If the governor’s actions today are additional guidance for informed flexibility and local decision making, I fully support this data-driven local control. If today’s guidance is executed as a mandate, the confusion will continue and will still tie the hands of our local school officials. Community-driven solutions and common-sense approaches at the local level are the best path forward.  

“As the Chief Sponsor of the Senate Resolution 5, which passed the Senate on July 20 with bipartisan support, we urged the Governor to stand down and to allow locally elected school boards and charter schools to re-open safely in their own manner and with their own timing following all MDH, CDC and WHO guidance. 

“Many of us have been laying out the case for weeks: Experts agree that the goal should be for students to be physically present in classrooms when safe to do so. The CDC, WHO, and the Minnesota Department of Health all have comprehensive guidelines about safety during this pandemic. Local school districts know their circumstances, their facilities, and their capabilities better than the governor could ever hope to. One-size-fits-all is not the answer. The right choice was crystal clear and has been for a very long time. Yet, parents and educators were forced to wait.

“Parents and educators want clarity on what the school year will look like, but they didn’t get it today. I’m glad the governor is focused on informed flexibility. Yet I am gravely concerned about state bureaucrats rather than locally elected school board members making decisions about school openings. Finally, today’s announcement should have been made six weeks ago so schools and families wouldn’t have to scramble preparing for the coming year.”