FARGO — Bells rang from class to class, and the sound of lockers slamming echoed across Fargo North High School, as students were welcomed back from their living rooms to their classrooms on Tuesday, Jan. 19.

"It does seem like the energy level of the building has picked up, so we have more kids in the hallways, and of course more kids in classrooms," said Andy Dahlen, Fargo North's principal.

As students put their laptops on their desks, and logged in for some lessons, some students said coming back for the first time since last March was the right thing to do.

"I'm walking around the hallways, seeing people I haven't seen in forever, and it's nice to see them all back in class," said Trissa Grande, a senior at Fargo North.

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Although most have decided to get back in class, others have chosen to stay distanced, as nearly 1,300 students are starting this semester in the Virtual Academy, according to Fargo Superintendent Dr. Rupak Gandhi.

A Fargo North High School student learns uses her laptop in the library. Tanner Robinson / WDAY
A Fargo North High School student learns uses her laptop in the library. Tanner Robinson / WDAY

Of that 1,300, about 100 Fargo North students are starting virtual, according to Dahlen.

Gandhi added he still gets the occasional complaint from parents on the district's decision to go back to in-person learning, but the complaints have mostly tapered off.

"Everyone has their own reasons and their own beliefs, but I think there has been more education done (on why we went back)," he said.

While some students were mostly excited to catch up with old friends, others said they had to adjust.

"It was definitely different seeing more people and just being a bit more crowded, but knowing our school has put precautions in. We're being as safe as possible, all keeping our masks on correctly, I like it," said Elly Weist, another Fargo North senior.

Teachers like Keith Lehman, who teaches algebra and AP statistics, are also happy to have students back, but Lehman said he's staying on top of the numbers.

"We may eventually run into the situation of quarantines, and how we deal with that, and how we deal with positive cases, so right now it feels good, but we're one day in," he said.

According to recent data, Fargo's district has eight students and five staff in isolation district-wide, but despite that, many students and teachers are hoping the first day back Tuesday can turn into a safe year back.

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