With new guidance, more middle and high schools finally reopen

Of the 30 largest Minnesota districts, only Elk River has its middle and high school students learning in-person every day.

Minnesota Department of Education/Facebook

As data and student attendance continue to show how safe schools are — and more Americans follow the science showing children falling behind academically without in-person instruction — Minneapolis Public Schools outlined a plan to bring middle and high school students back into the classroom full time.

By the time it occurs though, it will be more than a year of distance learning or no school at all, with terrible consequences for many children.

The long-overdue plan has high schoolers returning to in-person learning April 12, followed by middle schoolers a week later. That marks over 400 days without proper instruction for 35,000 students. Families will still be offered remote learning options.

“We worked tirelessly to err on the side of health and safety, but with [COVID] infection rates declining, we believe this is an appropriate time to bring back our secondary students,” MPS Superintendent Ed Graff said at a school board meeting this week.

Gov. Tim Walz recommended last week that all Minnesota schools offer some in-person instruction by March 8.

Some Minneapolis schools began reopening Feb. 8 and permitted all elementary-age students to return to in-person classes this week. Nearly half of the district’s students have chosen to continue learning at home.

St. Paul Schools welcomed all elementary school students back last week.

Staff are encouraged to wear facemasks and shields and take a COVID-19 test every two weeks.

In Greater Minnesota, most schools have been open since new state guidance went into effect urging a return to work.

The Pioneer Press recently reported that 18 of the state’s 30 largest districts had schools open for some or all secondary students. Eight additional districts currently in distance learning plan to open in March or April.

Of the 30 largest Minnesota districts, only Elk River has its middle and high school students learning in-person every day.

Edina is slowly shifting from hybrid to in-person learning over the next month to allow more teachers to be vaccinated — even though the CDC says this is unnecessary.

St. Cloud, the second largest district outside the Metro, allowed all students back to classes earlier this month, but has a weeklong “mid winter” break next week before teachers return March 9.