BREAKING: Governor Closes Schools Statewide Over Covid-19

Gov. Tim Walz announced this morning (Sunday) that all Minnesota K-12 public schools will close beginning on Wednesday, March 18. They will remain closed through Friday, March 27.

Walz said the closure is to accommodate planning between school staff, teachers and administrators with guidance from the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) and the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) regarding the COVID-19 outbreak.

Today’s announcement came a day after MDH announced seven more positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the state’s total to 21. Health officials haven’t yet announced any more cases Sunday morning.

KSTP.COM reported Sunday morning during the televised news conference from the Governor:

“My top priority as Governor is the safety of Minnesotans. As a former teacher, and father of two teenage kids, I’m especially focused on the safety of our children,” Walz said. “I am ordering the temporary closure of schools so educators can make plans to provide a safe learning environment for all Minnesota students during this pandemic. Closing schools is never an easy decision, but we need to make sure we have plans in place to educate and feed our kids regardless of what’s to come.”

Walz said the executive order still requires schools to provide care for elementary-age children of health care professionals, first responders and other emergency workers during the closure to help ensure first responders and health care professionals can stay on the job.

Walz also urged Minnesotans to follow MDH’s community mitigation strategies during the closure to help prevent the spread of the virus.

UPDATE: Many local schools are closing ahead of the statewide closure.