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Questions and Answers about COVID-19 (Coronavirus)

Questions and Answers about COVID-19 (Coronavirus)

Updated on 3/12/20

Based on what we’ve seen in affected countries, COVID-19 can cause mild to severe respiratory illness and children seem to be less likely to become ill. The virus appears to be transmitted through person-to-person contact and health authorities expect more cases may occur in the United States.

Below is information that will be regularly updated around:

  • General Health Guidelines
  • School Closures
  • Cleanliness/Prevention
  • MPS Staffing
  • Staff/Student International Travel

Our website will continue to have the most up-to-date information.

General Health Guidelines

Q:  How do I know if I should keep my student home from school?

A:  According to the Centers of Disease Control (CDC), patients with confirmed COVID-19 have had mild to severe respiratory illness with symptoms of:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath

If a child exhibits symptoms of COVID-19 while at school, it will be handled as any other illness.

We know news reports surrounding COVID-19 can cause anxiety and fear for our students and we will do our best to address any concerns. We are committed to ensuring students are supported with love, compassion, and care.

Q:  I can’t tell if my child has a bad cold, the flu or COVID-19?  How long should I keep them home?

A:  Keep your child home from school until 24 hours after the fever is gone (WITHOUT use of fever reducing medicine) and is well enough to participate in routine activities.  Contact your licensed healthcare provider with questions.  Further guidance can also be found here.

Q:  Will this be an excused absence?

A:  If a family calls reporting they feel uncomfortable sending their student to school or the student feels ill, standard attendance policies will apply, in accordance Board Policy 5100A.

If a family calls reporting that a student needs to be quarantined, school staff will contact MPS Health Services who will follow-up with the family on next steps.

If a school is closed due to an outbreak of COVID-19, all student absences will be excused.

School Closures

Q:  How will MPS decide if a school needs to be closed -- and for how long will it be closed?

A:  MPS is in continuing conversations with our local partners including the State Public Health Departments, Hennepin County and City of Minneapolis.  If there is a need to close schools, a closure will most likely range from 1 to 14 days and decisions will generally follow established guidelines around exposure or large scale absences. These guidelines may change due to circumstances or further guidance from health officials.

Q.  Will there be cancellation of school events?

A:  MPS’ focus is providing education for all students. District leaders have convened to discuss the impacts and concerns of continuing after school activities. At this time, after school activities pose a concern due to the gathering of large crowds and the unnecessary exposure to risk by our community members, staff and students.  Information about specific cancellations will be shared by your school principal or event leader. The District calendar will also be updated with changes.


Q: How is MPS ensuring that surfaces are kept clean?

A:  Our Plant Operations department is working closely with their custodial engineers to ensure standard cleaning procedures are enhanced with additional attention to regularly touched items in common spaces in our schools, such as light switches and door knobs. As always, MPS only uses cleaning products and disinfecting products approved for use around all children. If families would like to contribute to classroom supplies of tissues, please ask teachers if they are in need of any classroom donations.

Q:  Are buses regularly cleaned?

A:  Yes, bus drivers have a regular spot-check and wipe after completion of each route and will be provided with supplies to make this a more extensive wipe-down of regularly touched parts of each bus. We have a procedure in place for extensive cleaning of an entire bus interior should the need arise.

Q:  What are you doing to reduce the chance of sharing germs in our lunchrooms?

A:  Culinary & Wellness Services staff is continuing their practice of changing out serving ware and custodial staff are cleaning public tables and benches after each classroom group.  Self-serve options in the lunchroom will be removed through the end of the school year as an additional preventative measure.

Q:  Why doesn’t MPS have all staff and students wear facemasks?

A:  Centers for Disease Control (CDC) does not recommend the use of facemasks as a preventive measure for the general public.  Facemasks are typically used in clinical settings to prevent spread of diseases from ill patients to health care workers.

MPS Staffing

Q:  What if you don’t have enough bus drivers to run all MPS routes? How will our kids get to school?

A:  Transportation Services has stand-by staff to fill in as needed throughout the year. The same coverage procedures will be in place if/when illness keeps drivers out of work. Should we be unable to cover routes, families will be notified that their particular route is not running.

We encourage all families to access and use Here Comes the Bus for daily, per route updates on the status of your child’s bus

Q:  Will there be enough substitute teachers if lots of staff call in sick?

A:  Principals will closely monitor teacher absences and substitute availability. Should we be unable to cover classroom needs, families will be notified as quickly as possible how the school will manage the situation. We encourage families to think about backup plans for child care when a school is temporarily closed or when parents, children, or a child care provider is sick. See this link for more information on prevention and preparation.

Student International Travel

Q:  Is the District going forward with any school-sponsored travel?

A.  All student travel sponsored by Minneapolis Public Schools is cancelled until further notice.  Students and families should be in contact with their school sponsor for details about their specific cancellation. 

Q:  If an MPS family travels overseas, especially to a country with reported cases of COVID-19, can they come back to school upon their return or do they need to be checked for the virus?

A. Currently, the Federal Government has announced a global travel advisory for International Travel. 

Q:  How does MPS handle new incoming students from countries that have reported the virus?

A:  Minneapolis Public Schools’ responsibility at every school and program is to welcome all students and families into our school community. Because international travelers are being screened at airports or by MDH, schools are not expected nor should they screen families and students regarding their travel, possible exposure or health related concerns directly related to COVID-19.

Q:  What about when students/families travel overseas not sponsored by MPS? When do we recommend staying home?

A:  Minneapolis Public Schools does not make recommendations regarding students and staff need for self-isolation.  This guidance comes from officials welcoming incoming planes from International Travel and officials from the Minnesota Department of Health.  Minneapolis Public Schools respectfully asks families and staff  to follow the guidance to keep others in our school community healthy.