Minnesota News Connection

March 12, 2020

MN Education Community Responds to Coronavirus Concerns

Mike Moen

MINNEAPOLIS — The University of Minnesota has extended its spring break and is suspending in-person classes due to the new coronavirus.

K-through-12 districts have announced preventive measures as well.

The actions come as Minnesota health officials announce several more cases of the virus known as COVID-19.

Kris Ehresmann, director for infectious diseases at the Minnesota Department of Health, recently testified before the Minnesota Senate Education Committee on what schools should be doing to prepare.

“We want schools to consider what are their critical functions, and make sure that they’ve had cross-training in place — so that if there is absenteeism, that those functions can continue and minimize the disruption for teaching and learning,” she states.

In addition to the U-of-M’s announcement, Anoka-Hennepin Schools — the state’s largest district — says it has activated a 25-member pandemic response team to coordinate operations and prevention systems. That includes using hospital-grade disinfectant in common areas.

There also have been calls for schools to take advantage of remote learning through digital devices. Many schools had to do that last year during extremely cold weather.

Ehresmann describes the need for schools to take a common sense approach when dealing with someone suspected of having the illness.

“We don’t expect schools to screen staff or students for COVID-19, but we do ask that they help to get them home and away from other students and staff,” she state s.

In neighboring Wisconsin, classes were canceled this week in the Osceola School District, near the Minnesota border, after an infected person recently visited a school there.