Minnesota House Republicans are pushing a proposal that would allow local school districts to decide if — and how — they should reopen for classes this fall in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

The proposal, which will be introduced during a special session on Monday, would let local school leaders determine if they should continue distance-learning programs, reopen classrooms or a mix of both. It’s part of a package of legislation from the Republican minority in the House, including a measure that would allow high school students to start classes two weeks earlier than usual in case there’s an outbreak of the virus in the fall.

“It really is about empowering and trusting our local school officials. The community members know best how they’re going to open the schools,” said Rep. Ron Kresha, R-Little Falls, a sponsor of the legislation.

Schools went into full distance-learning mode in March to limit the spread of the virus, finishing the academic year outside of the classroom. While young people are at less risk of severe illness if they catch the virus, state health officials worry that they can spread the virus to their teachers, parents and other adults.

State officials will announce their decision on fall classes the week of July 27.

Kresha said school districts are in a “state of uncertainty and flux” not knowing what will happen this fall.

“I believe the Walz administration has fumbled this and they have their thumb too heavy on the scale,” he said, referring to DFL Gov. Tim Walz. “They really need to trust their local school officials.”


Twitter: @bbierschbach