Outside Looking In
We eagerly awaited Gov. Walz's decision last Thursday on whether or not school would resume on time. Some predicted it would return to normal, while other prognosticators felt it would be put on additional hiatus until after the holidays.
In mid-afternoon, the announcement came. School districts could return to school in counties with qualifying low numbers of COVID-19 cases.
With Lyon County numbers being low, Minneota administrators decided to start school on Aug. 24 while maintaining social distancing. They have gone to great lengths to make school a safe environment for its students and staff, communicating with health officials, the Department of Education and others.
As expected, reactions differed greatly throughout the state. The subject of returning to school has turned into more of a political debate than it should. Some people unhappy with President Trump and how adamant he has been about school starting on time, applauded Walz's decision.
And, as expected, those on the other side of the fence disagreed with the decision, feeling it's too early to start putting large numbers together in the same room.
No matter how many precautions we take, this nasty virus counter-punches and has gained the upper hand for now. It not only has taken many lives with it, it has also the third consecutive occurrence that has widened the divisive gap in America, following the impeachment proceedings on Trump, the Black Lives Matter protests against law enforcement, and now COVID-19.
It's been an enormous amount of turmoil in a short amount of time. And each of the aforementioned occurrences has driven a large wedge between the nation.
I have a great view from my seat atop the middle of the fence. I don't agree with some liberal views and I don't agree with some conservative views. I rarely allow those views to come to light, however, in this day and age. Years ago, you could tell someone your views on a political subject, debate for a little while, and then go about your business as usual.
Today, if you disagree with someone on social media, it becomes an expletive-laden firestorm. And at the end of the debate, you likely get unfriended or blocked.
For months, I've felt the importance of school starting on time this fall. Too many students and their parents admitted to me that the kids did not study or learn online nearly as much as they would had they actually been in school. Not all parents can afford to stay home from work to make sure their kids were doing their homework or following the online instructions of their teachers.
And the learning-at-home students were not all able to self-motivate themselves in an attempt to learn online. Who can blame them?
More recently, however, my thoughts wavered a little after seeing how easily this virus spread among Major League Baseball players despite the league stressing the importance of social distancing and other coronavirus protocol.
It only takes one person to start the spread of COVID-19 like a torch being thrown into a drought-stricken forest. What is someone is not adhering to social distancing, wearing their mask, does not reveal they have some of the symptoms, or gets tested but still goes out in public while awaiting the results of the test?
But I admire the relentless work of those involved in preparing for students to return to school in Minneota. They have gone above and beyond to dot all the i's and cross all the t's in order to keep everyone safe.
We should be thankful we don't have to make the decision about businesses opening, wearing masks, social distancing, school decisions and more. Unless you are Nostradamus, we don't know what the right call is. It's called a guess.
And when it comes to something as dangerous as this virus, we can't afford to guess.
Even though the pandemic has forced the majority of town festivities to be cancelled this spring and summer, Belgian-American Days in Ghent was held this past weekend in a scaled-down version.
Despite having only a handful of events, those attending B-A Days enjoyed the time spent together.
"It was nice to finally be at an event," said one participant at the Ghent Cruisers Car Show. "We haven't been able to do much this summer, so this gave us a chance to get outdoors and to visit with other car owners."
The weather cooperated after a brief morning shower, too. Temperatures were mild and a light breeze helped combat the humidity.
The annual Rolle Bolle tournament brought in 17 teams from Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois. The Ghent Cruisers Car Show had 100 vehicles, an increase from a year ago.
There was also a bean bag tournament, waffle-eating contest and an outdoor DJ on Saturday evening.
The town festivity may have been limited this year due to coronavirus guidelines, but those involved did a great job of forging ahead despite having to deal with guidelines and maintaining social distancing.
It was a welcome relief for many just to get outdoors with others and enjoy the time together.