While Minnesota Governor Tim Walz has called for all schools to be closed from Wednesday, March 18 through Friday, March 27, some school districts are beginning their closure early. This includes Blooming Prairie, Medford, NRHEG and Triton schools. Owatonna schools will be open for a regular schedule Monday and Tuesday, March 16-17 before closing down on Wednesday.

Schools are required to offer childcare for parents in certain occupations. Most schools will also offer free meal service during at least part of the time period they are shut down for students in need.

An email from Blooming Prairie Superintedent Chris Staloch states, "Both the elementary school and the high school will be open Monday, March 16 and Tuesday, March 17 from 8 am - 3 pm for students of family members to gather school materials and/or devices and personal items."

"This time is for staff to plan for distance learning. During that time (March 18-27) the building is not accessible." Childcare, however, will be provided for parents who are EMT's, healthcare workers, and those in law enforcement. Anyone wishing to take advantage of the service should contact Lonna Hefling at the elementary office Monday or Tuesday between 8 am and 3 pm.

Medford schools will also be closed effective Monday, March 16, as posted on the district's home page. Anyone in need of the emergency childcare should contact the community education office at 507-214-6304. That service starts Monday, March 16 and is free, per the governor's announcement.

Likewise, the New Richland-Hartland-Ellendale-Geneva district is closed effective Monday, March 16. The NRHEG school district website has information for those in need of childcare services. The time without students will allow NRHEG, and other districts, the opportunity to prepare for what might follow, "Our educators will be giving thoughtful planning to our distance learning plan, offering careful consideration for students in a variety of areas, including students receiving special education services, multilingual learners, students experiencing homelessness, and students who rely on meals served at school."

Triton schools will be open Monday and Tuesday, March 16-17 but they are non-instructional and attendance is not required according to the school district website. Students who need a place to go are welcome Monday and Tuesday. Buses will run on their normal schedule Monday and Tuesday.


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