Governor Rolls Back Restrictions Ahead of Significant School Events

Governor Walz announced another step forward in Minnesota’s response to COVID-19. These updates will affect events like prom and graduation, sporting events for the summer and how districts finish out the school year. 

MDE Commission Heather Mueller has released an overview of the updates, including how the changes will affect schools.

As a school leader, the most important thing to note is that although restrictions are loosening, the Safe Learning Plan for schools needs to continue until the end of the school year. 

Updates to Minnesota’s COVID-19 response

Minnesota will enter a three-step process that culminates with an end to all COVID-19 restrictions by May 28 and an end to the mask mandate by July 1.

  • Step One: On May 7, the attendance limits and distancing requirements for outdoor dining, events, and other get-togethers will be removed. This also marks the end the mask requirement outdoors, except at events with controlled access of over 500 people. Further, this step increases occupancy and group size for all indoor activities and events and provide recommendations for fairs, parades, and other outdoor celebrations to highlight best practices to stay safe.
  • Step Two: On May 28, the Friday before Memorial Day, all limits and restrictions will come to an end, including for indoor events and gatherings. Two requirements will remain:
    • Face coverings indoors and for the largest outdoor events with controlled access.
    • Businesses will have plans that keep their employees safe – as they have from the beginning of the pandemic – guided by a simple universal state guidance document that will include no new requirements.

Step Three: Once 70% of Minnesotans aged 16+ get their vaccine – but no later than July 1 – the remaining face covering requirement and the requirement for business preparedness plans will end. While critical work on vaccines will continue, no requirements will remain.

What this means for schools

Safe Learning Plan

The Safe Learning Plan—including Executive Orders 20-19, 20-82, 20-94 and 20-95—will continue to be in full effect for the remainder of the 2020-21 school year. This means you should continue following the Safe Learning Plan until whenever the last teacher contact day is for your individual school district or charter school.

For year-round schools only, the Safe Learning Plan—including Executive Orders 20-19, 20-82, 20-94 and 20-95—is in effect until June 13, 2021 at 11:59 p.m.

Summer Programming

The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) has released updated guidance for all organizations which outlines social distancing, quarantine, contact tracing, hygiene, masking and other requirements. This guidance will continue to be updated as we move through the steps outlined above. Schools should refer to this guidance as they plan and implement summer programs following the end of the school year. Additional health and safety recommendations for summer programming will be provided to schools in the coming weeks.

Middle and high schools will continue to be able to offer COVID-19 testing for students through the state program throughout the summer.

Prom and Graduation Celebrations

Schools should continue to follow the Stay Safe – Entertainment Venue Guidance for celebrations such as prom and graduation. These guidance documents will continue to be updated as we move through the steps outlined above.

Face Covering Requirements

Beginning May 7, masks will no longer be required outdoors – including during recess. Face coverings will continue to be required indoors until the statewide requirement is lifted.

Looking Ahead

MREA remains hopeful that schools will not need to have a Safe Learning Plan for the 2021-22 school year. MDE and MDH will continue to provide guidance and recommendations for schools to ensure learning can safely continue. We will provide more information as it is available.