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5 things to know today: Minn. Schools, Race relations, Rebuilding Elim, NDSU diversity, Chief Todd

Moorhead Area Public Schools meeting July 23, 2020 to approve bid for career academy..png
Screenshot of Moorhead Area Public Schools meeting July 23, 2020 to approve bid for career academy.

1. Moorhead to make final decision on fall school learning model Aug. 18

Moorhead Area Public Schools will decide by mid-August on whether to go back to in-person classroom learning.

A timeline was released by the district on Thursday, July 30, calling for input sessions with employees on Aug. 5 and parents on Aug. 10 before the school board makes the final decision Aug. 18.

Schools in Minnesota are set to open after Labor Day on Sept. 8.

Brenda Richman, executive director of community engagement for the district, said the Moorhead administrative team had already been vetting many options and scenarios this summer to bring staff and students back to school safely this fall before Gov. Tim Walz and his staff released statewide guidelines on Thursday afternoon.

The state plan leaves decisions on the type of learning models up to the state's 336 districts based on localized, science-based, data-driven information, using as the guiding force the number of active COVID-19 cases in their counties.

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Read more from The Forum's Barry Amundson

2. F-M metro race relations group in formative stage as Fargo OKs panel

Wess Philome along with more than a dozen supporters attend July 27 Fargo City Commissioners meeting..JPG
Wess Philome along with more than a dozen supporters attend July 27 Fargo City Commissioners meeting. C.S. Hagen / The Forum

A group to be called "WeAreOne" took a step forward this week when the Fargo City Commission voted 3-2 to sign an agreement to form the panel that would work on race relations in the Fargo Moorhead metropolitan area.

It would be managed through the Fargo Human Relations Commission and could possibly also involve West Fargo and Moorhead, though neither city's leaders have taken the issue up yet at their meetings.

WeAreOne would meet regularly to discuss issues including community policing, safety, inclusion, communication and economic opportunities.

Fargo Mayor Tim Mahoney said the organization's goal is to have "open dialogue and build trust" between the communities of color and the cities.

The mayor said he didn't know the makeup of the group yet but it would likely include representatives of the human relations commission, city planners, community police officers and a new city community outreach official that is in the proposed budget for the coming year.

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3. Elim sets plan to rebuild, salvaging portion of fire-damaged long-term care center

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Elim Rehab and Care Center, seen Thursday, July 30, has decided to rebuild after a January fire at 3534 University Drive S. in Fargo. Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor

The state's capital and its surrounding areas are seeing a rapid increase in the number of residents testing positive for COVID-19, and local health officials are upping efforts to ensure this spike does not mirror the outbreak the Fargo-Moorhead area experienced nearly three months ago.

Officials from Burleigh and Morton County said the highest age group testing positive for COVID-19 is adults ages 21-30. Renae Moch, director of Burleigh-Bismarck Public Health, said Burleigh County is experiencing this increase now because of Fourth of July celebrations in which some residents participated in large gatherings.

"That's kind of been our concern ... people at the Fourth of July for the large gatherings and family gatherings," Moch said. "We're starting to see the impacts of that here in Burleigh County."

Burleigh County has more than double the number of active cases of any county in the state with 285 cases, according to North Dakota Department of Health numbers reported Wednesday, July 29. About 4% of the county's tests results are coming back positive — about twice the entire state's reported positivity rate, Moch said.

Read more from The Forum's Robin Huebner

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4. NDSU to acknowledge school sits on land once occupied by Native Americans

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North Dakota State University President Dean Bresciani speaks June 25 outside of the Memorial Union. Forum file photo

North Dakota State University announced Thursday, July 30, a list of efforts to improve inclusion and promote diversity on campus.

The efforts include drafting a statement acknowledging that the school sits on land once occupied by Native Americans, recognizing Indigenous Peoples Day instead of Columbus Day, and creating a president’s council on diversity.

President Dean Bresciani laid out these actions in a letter to the campus. He wrote that NDSU intends to form a President’s Council for Diversity, Inclusion and Respect to improve the campus for "historically underserved populations and to operationalize the diversity and inclusion goal of the strategic plan."

“These steps are only the beginning of making NDSU a better, more welcoming place,” Bresciani wrote. “With these initiatives, we are setting up both a process and a commitment to continuously improve so that we can help NDSU and our country better live up to their ideals.”

Read more from The Forum's April Baumgarten

5. Retiring Fargo chief who took office during dark days remembered for steady leadership, community policing

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Fargo Police Chief David Todd talks July 16 about his career as a police officer in the department headquarters. Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor

When Fargo Police Chief David Todd first stepped in as the leader of North Dakota’s largest police force, he immediately faced challenges in a dark time.

Just months earlier, Lt. Jeff Skuza took his own life after supervisors recommended he lose his job for covering up an accidental Taser discharge. Dozens of coworkers were coming forward to express concerns about morale problems within the agency.

Then former Chief Keith Ternes stepped down, making way for the city to appoint Todd as the interim chief in November 2014 and later the long-term chief.

Todd told The Forum he spent a lot of time with his wife talking about whether he should take the position.

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