Senator Rarick: Back to school plans may be less flexible than they appear 

(St. Paul, MN) – Back to school plans were announced by Governor Walz on Thursday. The administration is allowing local districts to plan their initial return, though under state guidelines and with the knowledge that the Department of Health will monitor every district on a two-week rolling average. The plan ranges from in-person schooling, to hybrid, to fully online, but there are different standards for elementary and secondary schools. Depending on spikes in covid cases, the Governor could mandate statewide distance learning, once more. The metrics influencing potential statewide closure in the future are currently unclear.

“At first glance, the local control of school plans is great news, and is what we asked for,” said Senator Jason Rarick (R-Pine City). “My concern is that this plan is not as flexible as it first appears. There is an inordinate amount of confusing criteria that public schools must balance in the upcoming year. Ultimately, statewide or individual closure still comes down to the education commissioner and the Governor.”

Sen. Rarick continued, “Further, I’m concerned that the focus on case numbers, which fluctuate greatly with the number of tests administered, could cause chaos in future months. Administrators will not be able to make informed decisions because the state administration continues to hold their data cards close to the chest.”

Schools are instructed to implement mask and social distancing standards for all in-person education, but further measures are left up to the discretion of the district.