Minnesota school district rejects, and then reconsiders, state's guidelines for reopening amid pandemic
October 5, 2020
A rural school district southwest of the Twin Cities has become the first to test the limits of the state's guidelines for school reopening during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The board of Sibley East Public Schools voted last month to shift from hybrid to in-person instruction for all students - rejecting the recommendations of the district's superintendent, state education officials and the state's virus-count metrics for reopening as the number of local cases rose. Board members said they were following the wishes of a majority of parents, who are struggling to balance work with their children's complicated schedules, and trying to help students who can't log on in areas with spotty broadband connections.
But the move was short lived. Under pressure from the state Department of Education and advice of the district's attorney, who warned that defying the state could prompt a legal battle, lost funding and fines or jail time for school board members, the board held an emergency session and reversed its vote. Sibley East's reopening lasted exactly one week.