COVID-19 Updates

Safe Learning Plan for the 2020-21 School Year

Minnesota public schools are following the guidance in Minnesota’s Safe Learning Plan to continue to educate students and keep communities healthy during the COVID-19 pandemic. Minnesota’s Safe Learning Plan was created at the request of Governor Tim Walz and Lt. Governor Peggy Flanagan by the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) and the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH).

Minnesota’s Safe Learning Plan now allows all schools to provide hybrid or in-person learning to all students as long as schools take steps to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Each school will have a plan to keep educators, staff, students and families safe while providing hybrid or in-person learning. Schools are expected to communicate their plans directly to their school communities. Plans must be translated and communicated in written and oral languages based on the needs of each community.

Under Minnesota’s Safe Learning Plan, all public schools are expected to:

  • Keep students in small groups that stay together as much as possible during the school day.
  • Require students to wear cloth face coverings all day, including while in gym class.
  • Provide all school staff with cloth face coverings and face shields.
  • Require all school staff to wear cloth face coverings.
  • Prioritize school staff for COVID-19 testing every other week.
  • Clean the building daily and frequently clean high-touch surfaces throughout the day.
  • Limit non-essential visitors, including volunteers.
  • Monitor staff and students for illness.
  • Send staff and students home when they are showing symptoms of COVID-19.
  • Prevent large gatherings.
  • Follow MDH guidance on physical distancing:
  • For early learning and elementary schools only: Three feet of physical distancing or more between students is strongly recommended.
  • For middle and high schools only: Students must maintain six feet of physical distance from one another throughout the school day whenever feasible; when six feet of distancing cannot be met, a minimum of three feet of physical distance between students must be maintained.
  • When county-level data declines to a level that indicates full in-person learning for all students (equivalent range is 0 to less than 10 cases as a 14-day case rate per 10,000 people), schools will not be required to meet any specific minimum amount of physical distance between students in the classroom setting. However, schools must continue to create and encourage as much distancing as feasible between students during the day.

As of January 18, 2021, every elementary school across the state may choose to operate an in-person learning model as long as they follow the guidelines listed above to keep communities healthy.

As of February 22, 2021, every middle and high school across the state may choose to operate an in-person learning model as long as they follow the guidelines listed above to keep communities healthy.

All public schools must continue to provide an option for distance learning to students who chose to continue to learn away from their classrooms due to the pandemic through the 2020-21 school year.

In the first version of Minnesota’s Safe Learning Plan released in July 2020, Governor Walz asked school districts and charter schools to be prepared for any situation that may arise during the COVID-19 pandemic. MDE has directed schools to prepare three learning models:

  • Scenario 1: In-person learning for all students
  • Scenario 2: Hybrid learning with strict social distancing and capacity limits
  • Scenario 3: Distance learning only

In addition, Governor Walz made $430 million available to school districts and charter schools to help them prepare for the 2020-21 school year. These funds can be used to cover operational costs (e.g., cleaning and screen supplies, technology, Wi-Fi, and mental health supports) and support to boost student, family, and educator support, such as digital training, tutors, translation services, and professional development.

Read the Safe Learning Plan for the 2020-21 School Year one-page summary for families (PDF).

Read the Family Guide to Minnesota’s Safe Learning Plan for the 2020-21 School Year (PDF).

Public Comment on American Rescue Plan Funding

On March 11, 2021, the American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act of 2021 was enacted into law which includes $1.3 billion for E-12 education in Minnesota to help schools returning to, and maintaining, safe in-person learning for all students. Per the federal law, 90% of these funds have been allocated to eligible districts and charter schools. 9.5% of these funds are for flexible use by each state education agency to create a plan to meet the needs of students. As a result, we are asking for feedback and input on how the 9.5% could be used.

The public comment period ends at 4 p.m. on Tuesday, June 1.

Stay Home When Sick

More information about COVID-19 is on the Minnesota Department of Health website.

COVID-19 Saliva Testing for Minnesota Students

All students and their families are encouraged to get a free, COVID-19 test every two weeks to help prevent the spread of the virus. Anyone can have COVID-19 and not know it. Getting tested is the best way to know you are healthy and allow us to continue to offer in-person learning and extracurricular opportunities, especially with the increasing spread of virus variants in our state.

As long as students don't have symptoms and have not been close to someone with COVID-19, they do not need to quarantine while awaiting test results.

The State of Minnesota has provided COVID-19 saliva test kits for any middle school, high school and organized sports team through the state’s partnership with Vault Health. Students are also currently able to send their Vault at-home tests back to the lab through their schools.

If students are sick, they should get a test from one of Minnesota's free community testing sites or through their health care provider.

If your student is unable to take part in our on-site COVID-19 testing event, there are many other options to get tested at no cost. Families can visit one of Minnesota's free community testing sites, get tested through a health care provider, or order an at-home test kit. In-person or language line assistance is available at community testing sites. Some testing sites also have COVID Community Coordinators to help walk people through the testing process.

COVID-19 Saliva Testing for Minnesota School Staff

All public schools providing in-person or hybrid learning must offer on-site testing to all staff that interact with students. This includes teachers, paraprofessionals, administrators, support staff, nutrition staff, bus drivers and more. The state of Minnesota is providing training and saliva test kits so that schools can conduct this testing. Training and supplies are available to nonpublic and tribal schools operating in-person or hybrid learning who wish to test their staff, as well. 

COVID-19 Vaccines for Minnesotans age 12 and older

All Minnesotans age 12 and older are eligible to receive a free COVID-19 vaccine. Sign up for an appointment using the Minnesota COVID-19 Vaccine Connector or by contacting your local pharmacy or health care provider.

If you have questions about the Vaccine Connector or need language assistance, please call the Minnesota Department of Health COVID-19 Public Hotline at 1-833-431-2053.

Statewide Learning Assessments

The priority of the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) is to protect the health and safety of students and staff during statewide tests. Each district and charter school has developed local health and safety precautions based on information provided by MDE and the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH).

School-age Care

Schools that remain in distance learning must continue to provide care for school-age children of workers who the governor says are “critical.” Please contact your child’s school to learn more about school-age care.

Free Meals for Kids App

Children under the age of 18 can get free food at schools and community buildings across Minnesota. You can find a location that is serving free meals by downloading a free app on your smartphone. Search “Free Meals for Kids” in the Apple App Store or Google Play Store to download it. The app will use your location to show you where the closest location providing food is and when it is open. The app was created by Hunger Impact Partners.

Information about COVID-19

More information about COVID-19 is on the Minnesota Department of Health website.

Questions about Minnesota’s Safe Learning Plan?

Contact your school
If you have questions or concerns about your student’s schoolwork, receiving meals, school-age care or other services provided through your school. Language assistance is available upon request.

Contact the Minnesota Department of Education
If you have questions about distance learning guidance for schools or concerns about schools. Language assistance is available upon request.

Family Activity Guide (PDF)

Resources for Families from Minnesota Children’s Cabinet (PDF)