Office of the State Auditor logo

For Immediate Release
July 30, 2020

Contact: Donald McFarland
Phone: 651-236-0494

Saint Paul, MN - Today the Executive Council will consider an executive order that directs the Commissioner of Education to implement COVID-19 safety and public health metrics applicable to Minnesota schools for the 2020-21 school year.

After reviewing the order and additional guidance issued by the Minnesota Department of Education, Auditor Blaha plans to vote yes on the order. “As a former math teacher, I feel the needs of our students and educators intensely, and when the stakes and the emotions are high, I go to the data,” said Blaha.

Auditor Blaha went on to explain, “Minnesotans agree that in person instruction is extremely valuable, and also that our students’, educators’, and communities’ health must be protected. To support these values, a localized, data driven approach is key.”

“There is an important equation here: we must balance both the science around the behavior of COVID-19 and an honest assessment of our schools’ resources. Our actions need to be driven by the data describing the spread of the virus, but also on data on the varying infrastructure and tools our schools have on hand.

“Because infrastructure and resources differ significantly from school to school, and the course of the virus changes over time, our options for re-opening will also vary across the state. I know that will be frustrating for many who want a simple, fixed answer. But if we can tolerate a level of uncertainty, we will create the space for creativity that facilitates more in person instruction and can improve our schools well beyond the pandemic.”

Auditor Blaha added a related note: “The challenges we face in giving our students the education they deserve are yet another reason we all need to do our part to slow the spread of COVID-19. Let’s all mask up, practice social distance, and stay home when we are sick.”

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The Office of the State Auditor is the constitutional office that oversees nearly $40 billion in local government finances for Minnesota taxpayers. The Office of the State Auditor helps to ensure financial integrity and accountability in local government financial activities. Julie Blaha is Minnesota’s 19th State Auditor. Follow us on Twitter @MNStateAuditor.