School opening plan offers local flexibility

Gov. Tim Walz and his Health and Education Commissioners laid out a plan for reopening schools this fall in the age of COVID-19 that offers local school districts some flexibility about the kind of education they offer.

Instead of a one-size-fits-all plan that decrees all districts must have distance learning, for example, or a “do whatever you want” plan that leaves the decision entirely up to the districts, the Minnesota Safe Learning Plan will have districts work with the state to determine where they stand in relation to COVID-19 cases.

Counties with lower case loads per 10,000 population will be able to have in-person education, while COVID-19 hotspots would be limited to distance or hybrid learning for all.

Doing the math for Brown County, it appears we are just above the in-person education for all category, of 0 to 9 new cases pver the past 14 days per 10,000 population. Brown County had 25 new cases over the past 14 days (from 53 on July 16 to 78 on July 30). Brown County’s population is 25,008, according the Census Bureau. That works out to 10 new cases per 10,000 population. That number could rise or fall before school starts, of course. The education plan for the district could change as the number of cases rises and falls.

But according to the state plan, Brown County today would fall into the second category, in-person learning for elementary students; hybrid learning for secondary students.

The plan outlined by the state depends, then, on how well we control the new cases of COVID-19. We can keep our numbers low and allow our students a more normal, in-school education, by wearing face masks, sanitizing surfaces we touch, washing our hands frequently and thoroughly and maintaining social distances.


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