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Walz plan leaves many questions remaining

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz on Thursday announced a school reopening plan that really settles nothing. Instead, state experts at the departments of health and education will work with districts across Minnesota to help determine what plan is best for them: in-person, distance learning or a hybrid. We are not sure this is the kind of solution Minnesotans were looking for. We believe the overwhelming majority want the kids back in school. The governor balked, though.

We understand that Walz is acting out of an abundance of caution. The true nature of his plan will be revealed in coming weeks as we learn how many schools actually will be allowed to reopen for in-person learning. The experts’ standards and decision-making will be scrutinized. People also are going to wonder how heavy-handed the state will be. Will local districts be equal partners in any decision, or will the state overrule them?

Walz says that what matters is the viral activity around a given district, such as in the surrounding county. This is, of course, a changing number. What’s more, the departments of health and education will continue to “work with” school districts throughout the year, according to the governor. Meaning that whatever plans schools choose could shift, depending on local circumstances. We are not sure people are really going to like that either. Parents are trying to plan for the nine-month school year. What if that suddenly changes?

The governor is giving districts more than $430 million in federal funds to help them amid the crisis. That’s something. It will help them manage COVID-related costs. But the bulk of the plan is really indeterminate. So not a great answer to all who have been waiting.

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