A day after announcing a statewide strategy for widespread testing, Governor Tim Walz today outlined next steps for the COVID-19 response in Minnesota. The Governor extended distance learning through the end of the school year, announced a plan for up to 100,000 workers to safely return to their jobs, and explained the different factors determining the gradual re-opening of society in Minnesota.
At his press conference today, Governor Walz explained his approach for moving Minnesota forward amid COVID-19. With the health and safety of Minnesotans his top priority, he made clear the Stay Home order remains in effect as we consider ways to gradually loosen restrictions starting with settings most conducive to safe practices.
Given those considerations, Governor Walz announced that distance learning will continue through the rest of the 2019-2020 school calendar year. The state continues to pursue opportunities to expand technology for students, provide guidance for educators on how to best connect with students, and support families.
“As a former teacher, this is a heartbreaking decision,” Governor Walz said. “I am sorry for all of our students who will miss out on graduations, tournaments, and end of year celebrations. While I recognize distance learning is a challenge for many families, it is critical to social distancing in Minnesota and supports the health of Minnesota’s families. We will continue looking for ways to improve the current system and better support our children.”
“Distance learning has created new challenges for all of us, but especially students of color, Native Americans, students in Greater Minnesota, students with disabilities, and low-income families, among others,” said Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan. “Students are missing their friends and routines, and families are struggling to work while helping their young learners. We can and must do more to ensure that every child is receiving the education they deserve and we will always put the safety and well-being of our families first.”
As he laid out his approach for gradually loosening restrictions on Minnesota businesses over time, Governor Walz today announced his decision to allow certain non-critical businesses to safely return to work. Developed in partnerships with hundreds of businesses, labor and worker organizations, and public health experts, this action will allow 80,000-100,000 Minnesotans to return to work in industrial, manufacturing, and office settings on Monday, April 27.
“This is a limited first step in the process of safely reopening some businesses and returning Minnesotans to work,” said Department of Employment and Economic Development Commissioner Steve Grove. “We will continue to listen to and seek input from business and community leaders and work with public health experts on creative solutions to put more people back to work as safely and quickly as possible.”
Prior to loosening restrictions for a given setting, businesses must:
Create, share, and implement a COVID-19 Preparedness Plan that sets out the actions they are taking to ensure social distancing, worker hygiene, and facility cleaning and disinfection necessary to keep workers safe
Engage in health screening of employees and ensure that sick employees stay home
Continue to work from home whenever possible
Visit mn.gov/deed/safework for more information.
During the Stay Home Order, Minnesota has worked with hospitals to increase surge capacity; partnered with non-profits and foundations to provide critical support to Minnesotans; learned more about the virus and planned for what comes next; and partnered with Minnesota’s business community to purchase critical equipment, including more than 617,000 face masks, 127,000 face shields, 5.9 million non-latex gloves, 70,000 gowns and 418,000 N95 respirators.