As you may have heard, Governor Walz recently announced that distance learning will continue until the end of the school year. Distance learning has been challenging for teachers, students, and families, but I believe extending it was the right call given the current public health crisis. However, I understand that this will be difficult for many Minnesotans – especially our high school seniors. My colleagues and I are working on measures to improve distance learning and better support students.
Working in partnership with hundreds of businesses, labor and worker organizations, and public health experts, Governor Walz and his team have developed a plan to gradually and safely reopen businesses, starting with industrial and office-based businesses with workers who don’t directly interact with customers or the general public. These workplaces will be allowed to reopen this week if they create a COVID-19 preparedness plan and follow rigorous public health guidelines. Up to 100,000 Minnesotans who can’t work from home will be able to get back to work. You can read more about this plan here.
While our efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19 are working, we can’t just “flip a switch” and return to the way things were before the pandemic. We need to proceed carefully so we don’t jeopardize the progress we’ve made thus far. Governor Walz shared a framework for how he anticipates the process of reopening Minnesota will work.
Unemployment benefits are now available for self-employed workers, independent contractors, and other Minnesotans who aren’t eligible for regular Unemployment Insurance. The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) announced on Friday that they’ve fully implemented the new Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program. They’ve already begun making payments to eligible workers.
If you’ve already applied for regular unemployment benefits, you don’t need to do anything extra to qualify for PUA. DEED will contact you if you’re eligible for these benefits. If you haven’t applied yet, special instructions for self-employed people and independent contractors are available here. Additional information, including answers to frequently asked questions, can be found here.
Governor Walz recently launched a website to help Minnesotans determine if they should get tested for COVID-19. The new website can also help people find nearby testing locations. You can find it here.
I hope you and your loved ones are safe and healthy. Please feel free to contact me if I can be of assistance during these challenging times.