Owatonna School District announced on their website late Monday that all public schools will be closed on Tuesday, March 17. This is one day before the mandate from Governor Walz that closes schools statewide March 18-27. Originally, Owatonna had planned to hold a regular schedule Tuesday as they had on Monday, although parents had the option to keep their students home as an excused absence.

That changed Monday night. The district tweeted, "Due to continued concern and new updates from Governor Walz, Owatonna Public Schools will be closed...Tuesday March 17...Staff will not report on Tuesday, March 17th but should report on Wednesday, March 18."

Information on free meals for students Wednesday through Friday, March 18-20 are available on the district's website.

[Original post below was published on Sunday, March 15.]

Owatonna public schools will open for their regular schedule Monday and Tuesday, March 16-17. In a posting on the district website, "Families may opt to keep their students at home and this will be considered an excused absence." They ask families to follow the usual process for informing the school of an absence. Beginning on Wednesday, March 18, Owatonna schools will be closed per the directive of Minnesota Governor Walz through March 27.

Students in need of a digital device will receive one this week in order to participate in distance learning, should that be implemented March 30. The school announced that Charter Spectrum will provide free internet to those who need it.

The Owatonna activities office announced Sunday that after school activities will be suspended on Monday, March 16, two days earlier than the Minnesota State High School League mandate. No sports practices, functions, or meetings will be allowed through March 27.

Schools will provide emergency child care for parents of healthcare workers, first responders, firefighters, and certain other professions. See the list in the school district's website or call Community Education at 507-444-7900. Individuals who would like to utilize the childcare option should also call that number.

The announcement also states, "Only essential emergency employees and teaching staff will report on Wednesday, March 18 through Friday, March 20. These days will allow teachers time to prepare longer-term online learning approaches should school closures extend beyond this initial period."

Free meals will be available for students in need beginning on Wednesday, March 18. More details will be provided on Monday, March 16. Also, students may check out an unlimited number of books from the library on Monday and Tuesday to use over the time that schools are closed.