ST. PAUL -- Minnesota students will not be returning to their physical learning facilities this school year.

Governor Tim Walz and the Minnesota Department of Education announced Thursday that all public and charter schools in the state will remain closed through the end of the school year.

Walz says the decision was difficult to make but will protect the health and the safety of students, teachers, and families.

To the students, thank you for doing this. I can't express I'm sure the sense of loss you've had, but I would ask you to see your unique role. You're going to have a life experience that none of us had. It is going to shape how you think about the things you do in the future, and I for one am very hopeful about that. I think you're going to think with a forward lens to make sure we don't end up in situations like this again.

MDE Commissioner Mary Cathryn Ricker says under the new executive order, the current expectations of distance learning, childcare, providing of meals, and paying of employees will be extended, with a few changes.

We are not only committing to recalibrating this distance learning experience right now, but also anticipating what it could look like this summer to support students and to support teaching and learning. We are starting to ask some of those questions, work with some of our experts in the field, our educators, and continuing to listen to students and families for what next fall could look like and what the whole school year could look like.

Districts across the state have been implementing distance learning for just over a month. Minnesota follows a number of other states in closing schools through the rest of the academic year.

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