Feb 17, 2021 - News

How Minnesota plans to help its high schoolers

Illustration of a don't walk street signal animating to a walk signal, with the figure wearing a backpack.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

As more public high schoolers get the green light to finish the spring semester in person, educators, policymakers and parents are struggling with how to address the long-term effects of pandemic learning.

Driving the news: Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz will announce at noon today a strategy "to bring more middle and high school students back to the classroom," per a spokesman.

The big picture: Concerns about learning disruptions and mental health strains among teens have mounted after months of distance learning meant to curb the spread of COVID-19.

What's next: Many experts and lawmakers say action will be needed to catch kids up.

  • Audrey Azoulay, direct0r-general of the international education agency UNESCO, told us more instruction time, tutoring and condensed curriculums that focus on fundamentals could help: "Remediation [programs] now will save significant expense down the line."
  • Walz has proposed spending millions on summer instruction, including special programs for high schoolers.

Yes, but: Some are also encouraging teachers and students to focus on rebuilding relationships and assessing actual needs before implementing one-size-fits-all policy fixes.

Of note: An estimated 182 middle and high public schools statewide are already open for in-person instruction, while 311 offer a hybrid model and 214 are doing distance learning, per the Minnesota Department of Education.

  • Minneapolis and St. Paul are among the districts in distance-only mode for upper grades.
  • Still, schools with in-person instruction could face closures again if new variants cause cases to rise.

This story first appeared in the Axios Twin Cities newsletter, designed to help readers get smarter, faster on the most consequential news unfolding in their own backyard.


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