With Chauvin verdict looming and fearing unrest, Minneapolis schools halt in-person learning

Remote learning is back on the schedule for all grades in the Minneapolis public school system in anticipation of a jury verdict and its aftermath pursuant to the trial of ex-cop Derek Chauvin in the death of George Floyd.

In a notice to students and families titled “Learning and Safety,” School Superintendent Ed Graff has announced that students will attend home-based online classes from Wednesday, April 21, through Friday, April 23, during the expected jury deliberations because “in-person learning next week will be impacted by the trial.”

Most schools will be open for in-person instruction on Monday and Tuesday, which represents the first return to the classroom for middle-schoolers in about a year.

Presumably, the three-day, at-home interlude could be extended if jury deliberations continue beyond Friday and the weekend, and the superintendent alluded to such. Parenthetically, with all the evidence and transcripts that they have to sift through, it seems inconceivable that the jury could render a verdict before Wednesday.

Anticipation for civil unrest exists if there is a not-guilty finding, and officials have already beefed up security in the city. This includes physical buffers around the courthouse and other public buildings, as well as National Guard and additional police officers from surrounding jurisdictions at readiness.

Looting has already broken out in the general area after the officer-involved fatal shooting of Daunte Wright during a traffic stop.

Closing arguments by the state and the defense in the Chauvin case are scheduled for Monday, after which the judge will give the jury its instructions and send them into sequester. The judge has already advised them to “pack a bag.”

Although time will tell, it seems highly unlikely that the Chauvin jury will find that the state has failed to prove its case on at least one of the charges beyond a reasonable doubt. If so, the question then turns to what, if anything, might happen on the streets after a pro-prosecution verdict. Chauvin faces second-and third-degree murder charges in addition to second-degree manslaughter.

In detailing the schedule changes that he came up with after speaking with Hennepin County, Minn., officials, Superintendent Graff is perhaps taking no chances by adjusting the learning format in the upcoming days.

Our community is moving through an extraordinarily challenging time as we react to the killing of former MPS student Daunte Wright by a Brooklyn Center police officer, just as testimony in the trial of former officer Derek Chauvin in the death of George Floyd concludes and the case goes to the jury. We anticipate that a verdict in the Chauvin case could impact in-person learning in Minneapolis Public Schools…

Peaceful protests are one of the foundations of our democracy. Some students may feel called to participate in collective actions being organized around the city, but MPS also recognizes our primary need and your primary desire to keep students safe. We cannot deny the fact that people with ill intentions sometimes take advantage of communities in crisis.

 

Graff added that given some potential dangers, parents should “carefully weigh” any decision to allow their children to participate in public protests.

The superintendent also noted that racism may come up as a topic in the classroom (apparently in-person or remote) and that teachers should give students the latitude to “process their feelings” as a result of the Floyd and Wright fatalities.

 

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Robert Jonathan

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