MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Families finally have some answers about school this fall but it’s complicated. Gov. Tim Walz announced guidelines based on the number of cases in each county.

With this plan, school districts will have to make the call to keep kids and families safe.

WEB EXTRA: Read the full fall schools plan released Thursday.

Russ Renner is ready to get his four children back to school in Lakeville.

“As long as I know the schools can do it safely and they’re still taking precautions, I’m willing to send them back,” Renner said.

For a district to reopen, it first has to look at the COVID-19 case numbers in its county for the last two weeks. That determines whether it can open for full in-person learning, hybrid learning with limited capacity and social distancing, or if students must learn from home.

“Schools can make the decision to implement a more restrictive model if they decide to do so. Families with concerns can opt into distance learning even if their district reopens and teachers and staff must have the option to work remotely,” Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan said.

County health data is only a starting point. Districts then have to work with the state health and education departments to meet safety requirements in schools involving masks, PPE and cleaning.

“That’s going to mean making sure that we’re testing extensively in our schools and you can feel safe to know if and when you’ve been exposed,” Walz said.

(credit: CBS)

Based on the latest county-by-county health data, if classes started tomorrow, schools in about a third of Minnesota counties could open for full in-person, assuming the districts chose to open and could meet all the requirements.

Nearly all of the rest of the counties would use hybrid learning models — including the metro schools in Minneapolis, St. Paul and Anoka-Hennepin districts. Just three counties currently exhibit enough cases per capita to have to keep on with distance learning.

David Schuman