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Minneapolis schools move instruction online as virus surges



MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Minneapolis Public Schools will pivot to online instruction for two weeks because the coronavirus has significantly reduced the number of school staff available for in-person learning.

Virtual education will begin Friday with students returning to the classroom Jan. 31.

Minneapolis joins a growing list of school districts moving to distance learning. Osseo, Prior Lake and Richfield districts said this week they would move toward remote education. Rochester and Shakopee schools will move to distance learning from Jan. 18 to Jan. 28.

Minneapolis Superintendent Ed Graff said district officials made the call to go virtual after about 400 teachers stayed home Tuesday and Wednesday, the Star Tribune reported. That’s about double what the district expects during the winter months. It doesn’t count support staff who called in this week, including custodians, cafeteria workers, bus drivers and others.

Graff said educators stayed home for a number of reasons. Some were out sick or quarantining. Others were taking care of family members who had contracted COVID-19, he said.

By Wednesday afternoon, Graff said, district officials had run out of options.

“We’ve reached our tipping point,” he said. “As much as we did not want to move to this space, here we are.”

Families who cannot accommodate virtual education can send their children to a school building, but those lessons will still happen virtually, officials said.

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