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Minnesota’s largest districts taking more cautious approach to school instruction

Plus: insurance won’t come close to paying costs of rebuilding for businesses damaged in Minneapolis riots; severe storms knock out power for thousands in southern MN; young adults pose particular challenge for contact tracers; and more.

In the Pioneer Press, Josh Verges writes: “At least 23 of Minnesota’s largest school districts already have decided where and how instruction will take place to start the school year. Of those, 16 have settled on a model that’s more cautious than Gov. Tim Walz’s long-awaited guidelines advise. Many school districts have been surveying parents and teachers about their concerns and intentions for the start of the school year. Districts may be playing it safe because that’s what their communities say they want, said Deb Henton, executive director of the Minnesota Association of School Administrators.”

In the Star Tribune, Maya Rao and Jeffrey Meitrodt write: “Private insurance won’t come close to paying the cost of rebuilding what was lost in the riots following George Floyd’s death. Though Gov. Tim Walz has estimated that total losses will exceed $500 million, insurance companies have informed the Minnesota Department of Commerce that they will be covering a maximum of $240 million in riot-related damage. In the 5-mile stretch of Minneapolis that sustained the heaviest destruction, uninsured losses among local small-business owners are at least $200 million, according to the Lake Street Council.”

MPR’s Andrew Krueger reports: “Severe storms packing 70 mph wind gusts knocked out power to thousands of homes and businesses across southern Minnesota on Saturday. As of 6:45 p.m., utilities reported large power outages affecting the Granite Falls area in western Minnesota, and much of Goodhue County in southeastern Minnesota — including Cannon Falls and Red Wing.”

James Walsh and Jackie Crosby write: “As the pandemic enters its ninth month and social distancing fatigue sets in, young adults, many of whom are eager to return to bars and restaurants, are driving a new wave of COVID-19 cases across Minnesota. As they fuel the surge, they’re making it increasingly difficult for contact tracers to keep up with cases and track those exposed in hopes of containing the virus’ spread.”

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MPR’s Christine T. Nguyen writes: “About 200 people representing more than 20 schools took part in a student-led march in downtown St. Paul on Saturday, calling on Minnesota school districts to end contracts with local police departments. School resource officer programs have drawn scrutiny and criticism in the wake of the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Proponents say they keep schools safe, but opponents say they can be more of an impediment than a help to students. They’ve called for that money to be spent on more counselors and other student services.”

For the Forum News Service, Christa Lawler writes: “Abe Del Rio parked his SUV on the side of a gravel road, off a gravel road, off another gravel road in the Chippewa National Forest, where the buzz of mosquitoes is as bad as their bite.…Del Rio, now in the Sasquatch game for 20 years, and his squad are hosting the Minnesota Bigfoot Conference this weekend in Grand Rapids. It’s three days of Bigfoot stories, guest speakers and night hikes in a region of the United States billed by some as a prime territory for sightings. Del Rio recently made a mid-week trip to the Chippewa National Forest near Remer, Minn. — a small town, less than 30 miles from Grand Rapids, with a special distinction. It’s billed as ‘The Home of Bigfoot.’