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

The letter stated that Austin Public Schools (APS) is continuing to monitor the situation regarding the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) as it continues to evolve.  District officials participated in a teleconference Sunday with the Minnesota Departments of Health and Education and observed the Governor’s press conference on the topic.

As of Sunday, March 15, 2020, Governor Tim Walz and Education Commissioner Mary Cathryn Ricker have issued an executive order for school closures across the entire state of Minnesota from March 18 through March 27. APS will be following this directive. In addition, Spring Break for APS is scheduled from March 23 – March 27.

The Governor has designated March 18 through March 27 as a planning period to prepare for remote learning in the event that closures extend beyond this time period.
Here is what this means:
• 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
• 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.
After school activities:
All after school activities, practices, events, and building rentals (including Packer Dome) are canceled beginning
Wednesday, March 18, until further notice. This includes all Community Education programs. We have been
notified that the Austin Community Recreation Teen Center will be closed March 18-27.
District officials stated in the letter that their first priority is the safety and well-being of their students. They also want to ensure every child has access to the education they need and deserve.

APS will continue to update their families, staff, and community members through their normal channels.  Pacelli Catholic Schools are also currently working on a plan of its own and will plan to close down Wednesday.

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.