September 8, 2020


By Neal A. Shipman

Farmer Editor

With all schools in McKenzie County now open and students back in the classroom, the big question on the minds of every school administrator, teacher, parent and student is how long will our schools be able to hold in-person classes amid the COVID-19 pandemic?
We all vividly remember last spring when North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum, as well as the rest of the nation’s governors, cancelled in-person classes and forced school systems to only do distance learning to stop the spread of the coronavirus. The shutdown of school, as we had come to know it, resulted in parents being forced to try to teach their children at home as teachers presented their classes remotely.
Needless to say, from an educational standpoint, distance learning didn’t work very well. Students struggled with their online classes and many just gave up on the entire process. And from the parents’ perspective, the vast majority of the moms and dads who found themselves suddenly becoming their children’s teacher, found the process to be a role that they were woefully unprepared to deal with.
But it wasn’t just the students’ educational needs that distance learning failed, it was also their social growth. For virtually every student attending school it isn’t just about education. It’s also about being with their friends and other classmates, participating in sports or other school activities. And when schools were forced into distance learning, students’ social needs weren’t met.
Everyone wants our schools to stay open, athletic and other school events to be held. But given the rise in the number of North Dakotans who are testing positive for the coronavirus, the big question as to whether or not they will remain open all year remains to be seen.
This past week, Burgum took a significant step in keeping as many of our state’s schools open as possible when he announced that further COVID-19 risk levels will be done on a county by county basis in the state. That could mean that schools in counties that have low risk levels will be allowed to be open even if other schools are forced to go to a hybrid model of teaching in the event that the number of active cases in those counties reach higher levels.
Here is to hoping, and praying, that all of McKenzie County’s schools will be able to stay open for the full school year.

While the vast majority of observances of Sept. 11, 2001, have been cancelled due to COVID-19, it is still important for all Americans to remember that tragic event which resulted in the death of almost 3,000 people.
For those that may have forgotten, on that date, 19 militants associated with the Islamic extremist group Al Qaeda hijacked four airplanes and carried out suicide attacks against targets in the United States. Two of the planes were flown into the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York City, a third plane hit the Pentagon just outside Washington, D.C., and the fourth plane crashed in a field in Shanksville, Pa.
Now, 19 years later, Americans must never forget why the free world declared a War on Terrorism.
So please, take time on Friday, Sept. 11, and remember the thousands of innocent people who died as a result of those acts of terrorism and how it forever changed America.