As of now, Cass County is in the orange zone for COVID cases. West Fargo School District had written in their reopening plan that once Cass County moves to the orange zone, schools would be all virtual again. Now on November 30, elementary schools will be going back full time. According to The Forum, cases have seen to increased by 1800 in one week, and Cass county has the highest number of cases in the state. There are too many cases in our area for the school district to continue out with this plan.
On Tuesday October 12th, the school board had a board meeting which students and families could attend. They discussed the plan to start reopening schools full time, starting with elementary schools and eventually working up to high school. The vote to follow through with this plan was five members voting yes and two members voting no. Unfortunately, they got the votes to carry through with the plan. Another emergency meeting was called October 16, when Cass county was moved to the orange zone. They decided that number of cases in the community do not relate to the number of cases seen in the schools, so no matter what zone, kids will still be attending school.
With how serious COVID cases have gotten, this was not a smart or appropriate plan for the school district to make. With the zone Cass County is in according to case numbers, schools should be all virtual now, students should not even be attending school. The school board may not be understanding the seriousness of this virus which is why this decision was made unsafe and seen unacceptable to students and families. Parents can see this as dangerous for their house hold, knowing their children are at higher risk being around more kids There will be twice as many kids in the same amount of space. Students will not be able to social distance, which is a big part of preventing the spread of it, causing cases in our area to increase. Not to mention, with the new guidelines our governor has issued, people no longer have to quarantine even if they were a close contact. Meaning even if you came in contact with someone who tested positive the person in contact would not have to quarantine, simply because they were wearing a mask.
Dr. Fremstad, the principal at West Fargo High School, is not too worried about the virus and schools. “What we see happening in our building is not representative in our community.” Fremstad said. “When we see positive cases in quarantines, it is happening community wise, and the kids just happen to be enrolled here.” Similarly, Superintendent Slette thinks students are safer being in schools full time. “When students are not at schools, they are out in the community.” Slette said. “It makes sense to try to have the students less in the community and more in an environment where we can mediate the strategies.”
The members of our school board and the people who work in our schools should be more worried about this. The cases we see throughout our community do in fact affect our schools, our schools are in the community. There is a clear connection. Students and teachers are out in the community every day when not in school. Whether it be sports, other activities, or just going to stores, everyone in our schools come in contact with way more people than apparently thought of. It may be easier for our school district to set precautions and keep students safe while at school, but they are not in school all the time. There is nothing stopping students from going out in our community when not in school. Since this is the inevitable, the school district should be more cautious of what then is being brought into our schools.
It was risky to reopen schools this year with the pandemic but the school board is making what should be a safe environment, even more dangerous by doubling the amount of kids in the school. The school board needs to put students and families’ health first instead of worrying if all kids are back in school five days a week.