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Students, parents, schools weigh in on potential plans for fall

Emily Ness
Updated: July 30, 2020 10:54 PM

The first day of school is one that students of all ages put time and thought into. And this year, it may feel like a first for everyone as districts work to make difficult decisions regarding student's return.

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Following Governor Tim Walz’s latest announcement about schools re-opening, WDIO spoke to students, parents and schools about their thoughts and feelings about potential plans for the fall.

Maria Oppelt will be an eighth grader at North Star Academy in the fall. She said she’d prefer to return to school in person with safety protocol in place.

“I think that it will be weird, but I think that it's a good experience to have as we grow and to share with my kids and whoever comes after me,” Oppelt said.

Thomas Oppelt, who will be a fifth grader at North Star Academy, said he would be okay with distance learning, but said he missed learning in person.

“I miss my teachers,” Oppelt said.

Kim Oppelt, mom said she trusts the school district to make the right decision about what is safest.

“I'm trusting the teachers and the staff to lead by example and to enforce the rules and I have high expectations from my own kids because it shouldn't be only on the teachers. It needs to be the responsibility of the families too,” Oppelt said.

Justice Parker, another Duluth mom is a little more hesitant to send her child back to pre-school because he has asthma.

“I'm really afraid that if he gets it (COVID-19), he's not going to be able to recover or that it’s going to be really hard on all of us, so I'm trying to work on an academic plan so that when he goes to kindergarten in the fall, he’s ready for it,” Parker said.

So far, Hibbing and Rock Ridge School Districts say they are working to move towards safely learning in-person, but will continue to monitor the situation and adjust their plans accordingly.

Meanwhile, Esko, Grand Rapids, Cloquet and Duluth School Districts say they need more time to analyze data and formulate a plan.

Schools say masks will be required if in-person learning moves forward and some have also looked into the possibility of face shields for teachers, so students can see them better.

As for distance learning, schools say they hope to make it more engaging and accessible for all if that is what moves forward by acquiring more devices, expanding internet capabilities and working to train staff to make learning from afar more engaging.

All Districts said that they were keeping the safety of students and teachers their top priority as they worked to navigate this difficult decision.

“This is a huge challenge for the community and often out of challenge, there comes opportunity for a team really to come together and to really start establishing trust in how we work together,” John Magas, Superintendent of Duluth Public Schools said. “I’ve seen the deep, caring nature and the huge heart and dedication that our educators show here and that our administrative teams really have here as well.”

WDIO will continue to track updates on school’s plans as they come out.

Credits

Emily Ness

Copyright 2020 WDIO-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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