Robbinsdale closes schools over COVID-19 concerns

Updated: 9:23a.m.

Robbinsdale public schools Friday became the first district in the state to cancel classes due to the Covid-19 outbreak.

“Please be advised, as a precautionary measure due to COVID-19, Robbinsdale Area Schools will be closed today, Friday, March 13, 2020. All Adventure Club sites, Early childhood, ECFE classes, Adult Academic Program classes, after-school activities, and practices are canceled,” officials said in a web-page popup and on Twitter this morning.

Robbinsdale schools have about 12,000 students. The district did not say when it planned to resume classes.

The district closure follows what was apparently the state’s first individual school closure on Thursday. St. Thomas Academy, in Mendota Heights, announced it was closing for the remainder of the week after the parent of a student tested positive for the virus.

State health officials addressed school closures in a conference call on Thursday, and said that they weren’t ready to call for widespread school closures. They cited the lesser threat of the disease for young people, and noted the potential unintended consequences for children and families.

Experts have cautioned that sending children home often forces their parents home to care for them, including health care workers who could be essential to fighting an outbreak.

Still, some states are taking that step. Ohio, Maryland and Michigan have announced statewide school closures in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.

An analysis by Education Week on Thursday suggested more than 10,000 schools nationwide have closed as coronavirus spreads, and community transmission in many areas is making containment difficult, if not impossible.

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