Does he think we forgot? Walz rewriting history on school shutdowns

Gov. Tim Walz was interviewed by Esme Murphy of WCCO TV at the State Fair this weekend and unleashed the most preposterous statement of the 2022 campaign so far:

“Just to be clear, over 80% of our students missed less than 10 days of in-class learning.”

Wait, what?

Walz shut down the whole school system in March of 2020 after initially saying it would be better to keep schools open. His administration then put in place a complicated matrix using county health data and school district boundaries for schools to reopen in the fall of 2020. The plan was sold as local control, but local leaders really had very few choices.

The bar for reopening was set so high by the Walz administration that very few schools (if any?) returned to in-person learning in the fall. This was by design. Remember, Tim Walz is a card-carrying member of Education Minnesota and union leaders have a disproportionate influence on decision making in his administration.

As many predicted at the time, it was far more likely for a student to get hurt or killed in a car accident on the way to school than getting COVID at school. And this is not “armchair quarterbacking” or hindsight vision as Walz now charges. Many, many leaders knew the risks to children at the time and begged the Governor to open the schools.

The damage to Minnesota K-12 students is overwhelming. It was a lost year academically and emotionally for many kids. American Experiment will soon produce a report documenting the academic losses from school shutdowns. The news is bleak.

Throughout the pandemic, Gov. Walz listened to his public health experts more than anyone else. He pretended to balance the risks of shutdowns with spreading COVID, but he always chose restrictions over freedom. A strong leader would have listened to more voices, allowed for more risk and communicated with the citizens to calm their fears. Walz did the opposite, using fear as his chief motivator to achieve compliance with his directives. Never forget he purchased a public morgue after predicting 74,000 Minnesotans would die of the virus.

Eighty percent of kids lost less than 10 days of school? Gov. Walz is trying to rewrite history. He made the tough decisions, now he needs to stand by them.