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Safe Learning Plan for the 2020-21 School Year

Child studying safely at a desk

The health and safety of all Minnesota students, educators, school staff, and families is our number one priority. As a classroom teacher for more than 20 years and a parent of a child in public schools, Governor Walz is committed to providing the best education to our students while keeping them and their teachers safe.

That is why Governor Walz, Lieutenant Governor Flanagan, the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH), and the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) are taking a localized, data-driven approach to the 2020-21 school year to help students learn safely.

After partnering and consulting with experts at the Departments of Education and Health, school districts and charter schools began the school year in one of three models: in-person, distance learning, or a hybrid model. 

Based on Minnesota’s evolving knowledge and understanding of the virus, the Safe Learning Plan has been updated so that starting on January 18, 2021, every elementary school across the state may choose to operate an in-person learning model as long as they are able to implement additional mitigation strategies.

As part of this update, all school staff in-person or in a hybrid learning model:

  • Will be provided a new face shield and face mask to wear
  • Will be prioritized for optional COVID-19 testing every other week

In February, the Safe Learning Plan was again updated so that middle and high schools may choose to begin operating a hybrid or in-person learning model starting on or after February 22, 2021.

The Departments of Education and Health will continue to work with school districts and local health professionals throughout the school year to help districts decide if and when they need to shift between models depending on the public health situation in their school and surrounding community.

The Governor is requiring school districts and charter schools to ensure all families have the option to choose distance learning for their student throughout the school year. Similarly, the Governor is requiring school districts and charter schools to allow teachers and school employees to work remotely due to health concerns to the extent possible.

Minnesota has also provided local districts with support to provide face coverings for every student, educator, and staff member, and to create a comprehensive COVID-19 testing plan for educators and staff members.

Families are strongly encouraged to use one of Minnesota’s free community COVID-19 saliva test sites to receive regular COVID-19 tests for their students who are attending some form of in-person learning or participating in activities and athletics.

School districts and public health officials have a lot of important work to do here, but the ultimate success of this process isn’t just up to them. It’s also in the hands of each and every Minnesotan. After all, schools reflect and are influenced by their surrounding communities and for this to work, we need communities to help control COVID-19 spread. 

This is why we need everyone doing a good job following our slow the spread guidance of masking up, social distancing, and staying home when sick. We are all connected—especially during a pandemic.

5 steps for schools to determine learning model


Have more questions?

If you have additional questions about the model your student’s school will be using to begin the school year or the safety protocols in place for your student, please reach out to your school district or charter school. Find school district and charter school contact information in this spreadsheet (MS Excel)


More information

Read the Safe Learning Plan for the 2020-21 School Year document which explains the decision-making process and Minnesota is going to approach the upcoming school year which are laid out in Executive Order 20-82.

Data for K-12 Schools: 14-day COVID-19 Case Rate by County (PDF) includes data that can be used by schools in making decisions about their safe learning model. It shows the number of cases by county of residence in Minnesota over 14 days, per 10,000 people by the date of specimen collection (when a person was tested).

 Review the PowerPoint presentation used by Governor Walz for the 2020-21 School Year announcement on July 30, 2020.

If you are an educator or a school district leader looking for more information, please visit the Minnesota Department of Education. 

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