Minnesota Governor Tim Walz announced the closure of all K-12 public schools across the state Sunday, in an effort to counteract the COVID-19 pandemic.
The closure will take effect starting Wednesday, March 18, and will continue for 10 days through Friday, March 27.
During the two days leading up to Walz’s decision, the number of coronavirus cases in Minnesota more than doubled, rising to 35 on Sunday, according to MPR News.
Walz enacted the cancelation through an emergency executive order.
“The Closure Period is meant to provide time for our schools to adequately plan for continuity of education during the COVID-19 pandemic for the purpose of preserving the health, safety, and lives of Minnesota’s students, educators, and the broader public,” reads the order.
Walz’s announcement makes Minnesota the 23rd state to institute some form of school closures amid the coronavirus outbreak, according to Fox 8.
School cancellations may place an increased burden on working parents who rely on schools as a form of childcare during the work week. Many children from low-income backgrounds also rely on the public education system for a substantial portion of their meals each week.
The Governor acknowledged this at his press conference. “We know that there are a significant portion of Minnesota students who get the bulk of their nutrition in schools,” he said. He then stressed the importance of putting “plans in place to educate and feed our kids regardless of what’s to come.”
During the closure, schools will still be required to provide childcare for children under the age of 12 whose parents are “emergency workers.” This includes children of healthcare providers, emergency medical services workers, law enforcement personnel, employees of correctional institutions, firefighters and other first responders and court personnel, according to the order.
The order also stipulates that during the 10 days when school will not be in session the “MDE [Minnesota Department of Education] and MDH [Minnesota Department of Health] will provide guidance to schools on approaches to distance learning.”
This may be a precursor to taking classes online, a move already taken by dozens of colleges and universities across the nation, according to The Hill.