Legislation to prevent school closures via executive order advances

Senate File 2 authored by Sen. Carla Nelson, R-Rochester, was approved Wednesday by the Committee on State Government. The bill removes only the governor’s authority to close schools, curtail school activities, or alter school schedules via emergency powers, placing this decision-making instead in the hands of school districts “where local officials have firsthand knowledge of their students’ needs,” according to a Senate press release.

“I am glad to have the support of the State Government Committee for this important bill,” said Sen. Nelson. “This is only about doing what is best for students. At this point in the pandemic, there is widespread agreement about the importance of getting students back into the classroom. The decision on how and when to reopen should not be made from the governor’s office. It should come from local school boards and community leaders. They are the ones who know what is best for their students. They should be given the option to decide how and when to open their schools.”

Gov. Tim Walz’s executive orders during the coronavirus have come under scrutiny for how arbitrary and unscientific they are, with his school-related orders in particular raising eyebrows. Growing research makes the case for schools reopening — and growing evidence highlights the socialemotional, and academic toll distance learning has on children — yet many Minnesota students have not stepped foot in a classroom for months.

I encourage you to view the Wednesday hearing on S.F. 2 here, as the parent testimony shared is quite powerful.