The latest executive order from Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz, announced Thursday, does more than simply extend distance learning through the end of this school year for the state’s E-12 public schools. It also provides additional direction on how schools are to proceed in the final weeks of school and prepare for this summer and beyond. View new executive order.
Here’s a look inside the executive order at some of the notable takeaways for schools:
Between now and the end of the school year:
- The civics test is now waived for 2020 seniors.
- May 1 and 4 are planning days. To the extent possible, school districts must provide accommodations for staff to work remotely.
- Districts must post updated distance learning plans on their websites by May 5. These plans, if they do not already, should include a variety of communications pathways for families in addition to details on core instruction, nutrition and school-age care.
- Districts are to allow for remote work and use available staff who are able to work, subject to applicable labor agreements.
- The Education Commissioner may allow expanded in-school programming and home visits where those services cannot be provided through a distance learning model.
- Districts are to support communities disproportionately impacted by distance learning.
- There is more detail on fund transfers.
Summer and next school year:
- The Education Commissioner may allow schools to open for summer school and extended school year programming.
- The Education Commissioner is directed to create guidance for summer distance learning, and if permitted by MDH, recommendations for a hybrid of distance and in-school summer learning.
- Schools may begin the 20-21 school year on their approved calendar.
- The Education Commissioner is directed to develop an educational model that balances in-school and distance learning in the case that the typical in-building schooling is not possible.
The Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) also released additional guidance for schools following the Governor’s announcement. The guidelines provide additional details on implementing the executive order.
MDE has put a major focus on family engagement and developed a Family Engagement Toolkit specific to distance learning. It includes resources on communicating and engaging with families, successfully connecting with students and more. The toolkit can be found on the Supporting Students and Families COVID-19 Resources web page.
Executive Order 20-41 expands the uses of the fund balance transfer and revenue use flexibility that was authorized by Executive Order 20-19. School districts and charter schools are authorized to transfer operating funds from certain programs that are not already assigned to or encumbered by staff salary and benefits, or otherwise encumbered by federal law, for purposes outlined in the guidance.
During this unprecedented time, it is critical that districts and charter schools have robust coordination and outreach plans in place to maximize meals served and reimbursements. For example, open sites or closed enrolled sites with meal pickup operating the Summer Food Service Program can serve meals to all students and be reimbursed with federal funds, regardless of their household income level.
In order to maximize meal claims and reimbursements, districts and charter schools should be advertising meal availability to all families, even those who normally are on “paid” status.
For those districts or charter schools operating closed sites with meal delivery, we encourage them to apply for Area Eligibility Waiver to operate as an open site.
These flexibilities are important to provide every child with meals regardless of household income as well as stabilize nutrition programs in districts and charters that may be experiencing loss of fees.
Executive Order 20-41 directs that any remaining funds in the state school lunch, school breakfast, and kindergarten milk appropriations be redistributed to school food authorities based on the number of meals they served during the closure, distance learning, and extended distance learning periods. MDE will calculate and communication the amounts to be distributed by June 30, 2020.
Executive Order 20-41 expands the purposes of regional library telecommunications aid to include the improvement of internet access and access to technology with items that are not e-rated, including, but not limited to, digital or online resources
Gov. Walz plans to provide additional details for schools at his 2 pm news conference on Friday. MDE also will be releasing additional support for schools next week, in addition to hosting webinars during the statewide staff planning days on May 1 and May 4.
View MDE guidance released Thursday on implementation of distance learning.
Stay apprised of resources and news on COVID-19 for schools at: MREAvoice.org/covid19