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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Jeremy Munson (R)

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Thursday, July 30, 2020

[LAKE CRYSTAL, MN] – Today Governor Walz and the Minnesota Department of Health issued the “Safe Learning Plan” for the 2020 school year. The plan offers guidance for school districts based on the number of positive tests reported in the county over a 14 day period. Schools must have in-person, hybrid, and distance learning plans developed, and must be willing to switch between options at any point. Social distancing and masks remain a requirement for schools that choose to reopen. Representative Jeremy Munson (23B- Lake Crystal) offered his response to the plan.

“I think we can all agree education is paramount, and for many families and children, in-person learning is critical. The consequences of not being in school outweigh the health risks posed to children by COVID-19,” said Representative Munson. “The science is very clear on schools. Lengthy time away from school results in social isolation, making it harder to address learning deficits, abuse, depression, or suicidal problems in children.”

“Around the state, our learning environments and disease conditions vary. I appreciate the wisdom of local control by leaving the choice to the individual school districts to make decisions that best fit their circumstances. One-size-fits-all mandates are not effective and do not cause the least harm. Not all schools, buildings, communities and families are alike.”

School districts will be required to offer distance learning and teaching options for students and teachers who prefer to work from home.

The governor’s plan for reopening schools relies on a matrix designed to give districts flexibility, while also giving the state a plan for dealing with outbreaks. If outbreaks occur, districts could be ordered by the state to resume distance learning at any point.

Representative Munson continued, “Given the state’s recommendations rely on testing numbers to form their metric, now more than ever, the accuracy of the tests and honesty of the reporting will be scrutinized.  On June 1st, the MN Department of Health started counting each test as a positive case, instead of each person testing positive.  Due to the inaccuracy of the tests, many patients receive two or three tests.”

The plan outlined by the Minnesota Department of Education states districts do not need to offer in-person instruction, even if the state allows for it. Earlier this week, Minneapolis Public Schools announced they would not be returning for in-person instruction to start the school year, with no date set for when they will return.

“This decision by the Minneapolis Public Schools is concerning for many households. Failing to reopen schools will cause parents to either lose their jobs or be forced to put their kids into daycare,” said Representative Munson. “Most kids in daycare are exposed to similar risks as kids who are in schools.”

Representative Munson concluded, “While I am glad this is a local decision, along with many parents, many of my concerns and questions were left unanswered today, especially when I heard words like, “testing event” and “universal testing” in schools.”