By Rep. Tony Jurgens, 4/9/2020
As you may have heard, Governor Walz has extended the stay-at-home order until May 4, and has relaxed a few work restrictions.
During this continued time of stay-at-home transition, I want to share with you some of the things I’ve been working on over the past few weeks, the people that have reached out to me that I’ve been trying to help (from schools to businesses), and the new realities we face at the State Capitol.
LOCAL SCHOOL UPDATES
I’ve been in contact with local schools to see how things are going. Remember, the school buildings might be closed, but schools are not. As expected, there have been some challenges with distance learning, especially since not all students have access to needed technology. In addition to distance learning, school districts are also serving meals and providing child care.
Teachers, faculty and staff have stepped up, and in some cases they’ve been called upon to perform new tasks. Everyone is pitching in. Districts have reported that things are mostly going well so far.
For years, schools have asked for more control, innovation, project based learning, less focus on seat time, measuring the outputs, not the inputs and so forth. Now is their chance to shine, as this is an opportunity to see what is possible. This is not a pilot project, this is our new reality for the near future. Let’s see what good can come out of this for the future of our schools.
LOCAL BUSINESS ASSISTANCE
I’ve also heard from many of you asking how your business is impacted by the governor’s stay at home executive order.
So who is considered “essential?”
After hearing from a Hastings florist, I asked the Governor’s Office and received clarification that florists can deliver plants and flowers as long as social distancing takes place. This is good news for all florists as it helps these local business owners who would have been at risk of losing inventory.
Funeral homes in our district also were interested in how they were impacted by the Governor’s actions, so I also reached out on their behalf. With senior living homes and hospitals limiting visitation, funeral home services are now, more than ever, an important part of the grieving process. While large gatherings are not allowed, small groups of immediate family can pay last respects to their loved ones.
We have several marinas in and around our district. I was contacted about concerns for dry docked boats in event of spring flooding, and asked the administration for guidance.
It was decided that marina operations are allowed to protect boats, docks and other infrastructure as long as they remained closed to the public and social distancing is followed.
I’ve also been in contact with Regina Hospital as well as senior living homes in our district, as it’s important to remember these workers caring for our loved ones.
I’ve learned that staffing is an issue. For example Regina Senior Living has 25 open positions, and Augustana Care is also hiring. They are also concerned about the logistics of purchasing hand sanitizer and other cleaning supplies as they continue their tireless efforts to protect residents from COVID-19.
Area child care providers are also concerned about losing kids as well as revenue. Some good news for them: they can now apply for Parent Aware grants. Some have also reported having quantities limited when ordering cleaning supplies, requiring several smaller deliveries. I pointed out to them that the governors executive order specifically stated these items shouldn’t be limited, so hopefully that change has been made.
As always, if you have a question in regards to your business, or anything COVID-19 related, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 651-296-3135 and I will do my best to get you an answer.
The legislature continues to work, even though we’re doing things differently.
Conference calls and video conference committee meetings – such as Hastings Chamber members, county delegations, weekly COVID-19 related calls with the White House – have become the norm. Hundreds of emails from constituents asking for clarification and help have been received, and I’m happy to do it.
We are in very difficult times now and it’s likely that things will get worse before they get better. We’re asked to #StayHomeMN, limit our contact with each other, and adhere to recommended social distancing guidelines and other safety precautions.
Much like 9/11 changed us, our lives will be forever impacted by the deadly reality of a worldwide pandemic.
Eventually, the worst will be behind us. We will return to a life that will become our new normal. We’ll spend time with our families, friends and neighbors. We’ll go to restaurants, ball games and concerts. Our businesses will reopen and people will be allowed to go back to work.
We will have brighter days, we will return to prosperity and we will get through this together.
I wish you all a Happy Easter and Passover.
Representative Tony Jurgens
351 State Office Building
100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
St. Paul, MN 55155