SAINT PAUL, Minn. – Today, the House Education Finance Committee held a remote hearing to review Governor Walz’s executive order requiring local school districts to establish a safe learning plan for the upcoming school year. In partnership with the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) and the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH), school districts will create their plans for either a hybrid, distance learning, or in-class model based on what best fits that individual district’s student population, and the viral presence in each county. A copy of the Safe Learning Plan 2020-21 can be found here.
“The safety, wellness, and health of our students, families, and educators is at the forefront of the plan for schools as the virus evolves and the legislature continues to partner with MDE and MDH,” said House Education Finance Committee Chair Jim Davnie (DFL-Minneapolis). “The long-lasting impacts this pandemic will have in underserved communities will call leaders at every level to focus resources to meet the educational, and social and emotional developmental needs of children. At the same time districts will need to work to meet the nutrition and mental health needs of children in their communities."
The committee also discussed previous and proposed federal funding to help districts navigate the pandemic’s impacts on public schools from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act/CRF). $38.1 million has been allocated in federal Governor’s Emergency Education Relief (GEER) funds to eight regions across the state. $140.1 million is available from the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund. Of these funds, 60% will be dedicated to operational costs that include increased cleaning, testing, and transportation adjustments. 40% will be allocated for student, family, and educator needs to assist with mental health, translation, digital supports and more. Additionally, the Minnesota Department of Education is applying for $256 million in CRF funds that will address operating costs, PPE supplies for schools, and funding for COVID rapid testing for school staff.
Materials from the Minnesota Department of Education and Health related to the Safe Learning Plan can be found on the committee’s website.