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Parents turn to ‘learning pods’ to cope with COVID-related school closures

Plus: Walz hears teacher concerns after press-conference interruption; man assaulted on way to mosque in Bloomington; class-action suit filed against Minneapolis for protest response; Minnesota’s new teacher of the year; and more.

Rise of the pods. The Star Tribune’s Mara Klecker reports: “Once she found out that Minneapolis Public Schools would be starting the year with online learning, Katy Armendariz started texting two oth­er fami­lies about how they could get through it together. … They decided to form a ‘learning pod’ for their children and hire a part-time teacher to help. … The pod of six to seven students, the parents hope, will allow for some social- and group-learning experiences while providing the supervision and child care necessary to allow them to continue their own work.

Related. KARE’s Alicia Lewis reports: “‘I am a teacher and I am scared. Will you talk to me for two minutes?’ … Those were the words shouted during a press conference Thursday from Ellen Gurrola, a middle school teacher in the Anoka-Hennepin School District. … Governor Walz pulled away from the briefing momentarily to speak with Gurrola, who was understandably emotional about what’s happening with the upcoming school year.

Seeking more information. WCCO reports: “A man was hospitalized Thursday night after being assaulted while walking to his local mosque in the south metro. … The Bloomington Police Department says the assault happened shortly before 10 p.m. in the area of 82nd Street and Park Avenue, less than a block from the Dar al-Farooq mosque. … At the scene, officers found a wounded 50-year-old man. Emergency crews brought him to Southdale Hospital to treat a non-life-threatening wound to his upper body.”

Protest lawsuit. KMSP’s Rose Semenov reports: “A group of protesters is filing a class-action lawsuit against the City of Minneapolis for the use of ‘unreasonable and excessive shows of force’ during peaceful demonstrations in the days following George Floyd’s death. … The lawsuit, which was filed in federal court Thursday also names Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey and Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo as defendants. … According to the lawsuit, Minneapolis Police Department used pepper spray, rubber bullets or tear gas on the crowds that were peacefully protesting, infringing upon their First Amendment rights.”

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Congrats to Minnesota’s new teacher of the year. Sahan Journal’s Becky Z. Dernbach reports: “Growing up in a small Ohio town post-9/11, Qorsho Hassan wished she had teachers who understood her. On Thursday, she was named Minnesota’s Teacher of the Year, the first Somali American to win the honor, for her willingness to trust her students and let their own questions guide their learning. … Accepting the award on the grounds of the State Capitol, Qorsho noted that her students call her by her first name, and help direct their own learning. ‘They run the classroom with me,’ she said. ‘I refuse for anyone to dim the light of my students.’”

In other news…

FYI, voters:Drive-Thru Ballot Drop Off Begins Friday In Minneapolis” [WCCO]

Construction update:I-94 closes in Minneapolis for the second weekend in a row” [KSTP]

Weather report:A warm and stormy weekend ahead” [MPR]

Public art:Fun, colorful mural brightens Park Rapids street” [Park Rapids Enterprise]

Always last in line:McNally Smith bankruptcy leaves nothing for students of music school” [Pioneer Press]

Testing sites:Ramsey County offers free COVID testing regardless of symptoms” [Pioneer Press]

Minnesotan of note:How JT Bates Ended Up on Taylor Swift’s New Album” [Minneapolis.St.Paul]

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Home run:Paul Molitor elected to National College Baseball Hall of Fame” [KSTP]