Senator Utke Disappointed in Back to School Announcement

(St. Paul, MN) – Back to school plans were announced by Governor Walz on Thursday. The administration says they are allowing initial decisions to be made locally, but in collaboration with the state. The Department of Health will monitor local cases on a two-week rolling average and. The average, if it reaches a certain level, could cause statewide distance learning, once more. The metrics influencing potential statewide closure in the future are currently unclear, and ultimately Governor Walz still makes final decisions on education.

“Though the message from the Governor is that back to school decisions are up to districts, the education commissioner can veto any in-person plans,” said Senator Paul Utke (R-Park Rapids). “Local districts have been removed from the conversation surrounding potential closures. The Governor has been informed by leaders with the Teacher’s Union, rather than district administrators and the school boards. If our districts were provided with clear guidelines for an outbreak, without vague threats of closure at the state level, they would be equipped to determine safety going forward. This is yet another instance of big government trying to solve individual problems in the state, without regard for parents or local leadership.” 

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. Districts are expected to publicize and send their plans for state approval soon.