ST. PAUL — Minnesota students will likely wrap up the school year from home, Gov. Tim Walz, said Thursday, April 2, as the coronavirus pandemic continues.

Students began distance learning on Monday after schools were closed and Walz along with state education officials said the remote learning would be required as the state continues to see an uptick in COVID-19 cases and deaths in the state.

Walz said there is a “relatively strong possibility” that students would not return for classes this semester and that schools would have to plan alternatives to graduation ceremonies. While he didn't formally extend school closures beyond the May 4 date, he said he would likely have to take that step in the coming days.

The comment came after the Minnesota Department of Health on Thursday reported that the number of COVID-19 cases in the state had grown to 742 and 18 people died from the illness or of complications. In total, 22,934 Minnesotans have been tested for the disease. State health officials say reported cases likely significantly undercount the total number of those infected with COVID-19 in Minnesota.

Deputy Commissioner of Education Heather Mueller on Thursday said graduation ceremonies had not yet been canceled, but the department would direct districts to consider alternative ceremonies amid the pandemic.

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The school closures, along with a series of executive actions closing bars, restaurants, public amusement spaces and other public areas have been issued in an effort to limit the spread of COVID-19. Those closures are part of the efforts to give the state additional time to build up its personal protective supplies and intensive care unit beds ahead of anticipated peak in cases.

Minnesota Department of Health COVID-19 hotline: 651-201-3920.

School and childcare hotline: 651-297-1304 or 800-657-3504.

MDH COVID-19 website: Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) website.