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Minneapolis Schools to Close as City Braces for Violence

School officials anticipate unrest as Derek Chauvin trial concludes

Demonstrators march through downtown on April 9, 2021 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. / Getty Images
• April 19, 2021 6:15 pm

Minneapolis Public Schools will return to online learning this week as the city prepares for unrest in the final days of the Derek Chauvin trial. 

Ed Graff, superintendent of Minneapolis Public Schools, announced all students will return to remote learning Wednesday through Friday to avoid disruptions to in-person instruction. Closing arguments in the Chauvin trial began Monday, and jurors are expected to determine whether Chauvin was responsible for the death of George Floyd by the end of the week.

Minneapolis residents, business owners, and city officials are preparing for another wave of protests and riots comparable to those that overwhelmed the city last year after Floyd's death. Thousands of National Guardsmen were deployed to the city last week to discourage looting and violence. 

Graff's notice informed parents that the district has provided teachers with resources to discuss "racism and violence" related to the trial in upcoming classes. 

"The racism and violence that has been highlighted in these tragic incidents may be widely discussed among some students in our schools," said Graff. "As appropriate and as they are comfortable, teachers will give students the opportunity to process their feelings, how this feels to them personally and how they are impacted by having the eyes of the world on Minneapolis." 

Graff highlighted a list of resources, which included a "Comprehensive Restorative Toolkit" to help students process the trial. The district also promoted a "Community Restorative Space" for in-person discussion about the trial, which will be hosted on Friday—while students are still learning online. 

Minneapolis seventh and eighth graders will return to the classroom for the first time in more than a year on Tuesday, before learning returns back online. While middle schoolers have been locked out of their classrooms since last March, elementary students in Minneapolis resumed in-person learning in February. High schoolers returned to in-person instruction last week.

Teachers' unions across the country thwarted attempts to return students to the classroom during the pandemic, ignoring scientific studies that show it's safe to reopen schools. Online learning has now become a permanent fallback for educators who feel it's unsafe to teach in person.