District leaders say they’re hungry for specific guidance as they prepare for the school year

Gov. Tim Walz on Thursday is expected to give districts and charter schools guidance on the upcoming school year to help them make decisions on reopening this fall.

The governor briefs reporters at 2 p.m. MPR News will carry his highly anticipated remarks live online and on the air.

Walz has said he wants students to be able to return to in-person classes safely with the state providing districts and charter schools needed guidance but also flexibility.

“Our guiding principles are to keep our children and our staff in the buildings safe,” Walz told reporters Wednesday. “And our second goal right behind that is to get our children back in the schools, especially our littlest learners, if at all possible.”

Walz said reopening the schools shouldn’t be driven by politics, but by science. His announcement comes as hospitalizations and intensive cases continue to climb — and on the heels of his statewide mandate requiring people to wear masks in public indoor spaces.

“If there are communities across the state that are really wanting to see their children back in school and want to see them stay there, wear your mask,” he said. “That is the biggest thing we can do.”

In June, the state health and education departments told districts and charters to prepare for three different scenarios to resume school in the fall: distance learning, in-person learning and a hybrid of those two options.

Walz has said the standards he’ll provide will give schools flexibility to work within those standards as they make their own decisions.

In recent weeks, Walz has laid out a possible scenario of having younger grades back in classrooms while offering a hybrid scenario for middle school students and full-time online learning with older students. But the governor has not committed to that plan and admitted it was complicated, especially for families with children spanning various ages.

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