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APS announces plans for school closures

In reaction to the announcement by Gov. Tim Walz Sunday to shutter schools across the state in response the COVID-19 virus, Austin Public Schools has sent a letter to families announcing their plans.

Pacelli Catholic Schools is also currently working on a plan of its own and will plan to close down Wednesday.

The executive order will close schools from March 18-27, giving districts a chance, “to prepare for remote learning in the event that closures extend beyond this time period,” the letter read.

APS’s letter lays out four relevant dates for parents:

• March 16 and March 17: students and staff on the traditional calendar will report as normal. Families may opt to keep their students at home and this will be considered an excused absence. Please continue to follow our regular process of contacting the school if your student will be absent on either of these days. Regular Kids Korner will be available for registered participants. If students have medications at school and/or Kids Korner, these medications will need to be picked up by a parent or guardian by March 17 at the end of the school day.

• March 18 – March 27: School is closed for students and no instruction will be provided. Regular Kids Korner will also be closed as part of this emergency closure. Emergency child care will be provided to children ages 3-12 of health care professionals, first responders, and other emergency workers as directed by Governor Walz’s emergency executive order. Qualifying families will be receiving a survey link to indicate their desired participation in emergency child care.

• March 23 – 27: APS Spring Break. Students do not report, staff should follow their contract/work agreement.

• March 30: At this point, we anticipate teaching and learning will resume either in person or via distance learning depending on guidance from Governor Walz.

This suspension extends to after school activities including athletic practices, events and building rentals, which includes Packer Dome. It also includes Community Education programs.

In conjunction the Teen Center at the YMCA at the Austin Community Recreation Center will also be closed March 18-27.

“As always, our first priority is the safety and well-being of our students,” the letter said. “We also want to ensure every child has access to the education they need and deserve.”

The state-wide closing will be for kindergarten through 12th grade, though some districts have already announced plans to close Monday or Tuesday.

Minnesota’s case total rose to 35 Sunday, over double the cases of 14 reported on Saturday.

To read the entire letter, visit here.

— The Associated Press contributed to this story