By Kirsten Mitchell

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Minnesota is seeing record numbers of COVID-19 cases and Twin Cities public schools are divided over distance learning.

Minneapolis moved classes online Friday for the next two weeks, but students in St. Paul are still headed into the classroom.

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Minneapolis Public Schools cited staffing shortages. During the two-week move online, they will keep buildings open, buses running and provide meals for those who need a place to learn.

“It’s come down to the point we cannot adequately operationalize on behalf of our students,” Superintendent Ed Graff said.

Karin Imdieke’s daughter, Kaia, is in the 4th grade in MPS. She hopes distance learning is temporary but understands the current need.

“I’m pregnant, so I get a little worried about the rising cases and her going to school because I don’t want to get sick with COVID or my son who is unvaccinated. I don’t want him to get COVID,” Imdieke said.

In St. Paul Public Schools, a letter sent Thursday to families and staff said classes will remain in-person at all schools and any move online will be determined on a school-by-school basis.

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The letter said the district proposed a two-week distanced learning plan, but couldn’t come to an agreement on the terms with the union representing St. Paul teachers.

“We have an agreement with the district that staff wouldn’t need to go into buildings and that was suddenly shifted without discussion,” St. Paul Federation of Educators Local 28 President Leah VanDassor said.

VanDassor says talks with the district are ongoing.

SPPS says they’re providing staff with medical-grade masks and revising isolation and quarantine guidelines in accordance with the CDC and the state.

“We are all just trying to do the best we can with what we have and going forward. I think we just want a solid plan so people know what to expect,”  VanDassor said.

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SPPS says it will announce details soon about its new isolation and quarantine guidelines. MPS is set to resume in-person learning on Jan.31.

Kirsten Mitchell