I saw a tweet the other day that said “Scientists have found that one dog year does not equal seven human years. In fact, the only thing that equals seven human years is 2020.” Sounds about right.

With the new school year fast approaching there are so many questions for parents, students, teachers and administrators. What will the “three Rs” look like given the “fourth R” – reality.

Faced with so many issues, concerns and opinions, the decisions are difficult. For me, I wonder about the overall health of the children and what kind of impact these decisions will have on them this year and beyond.

Young children need to see smiles from teachers, not masks. They need to see the teacher’s mouth as they learn letters and new words. This works best in person with a loving smile and encouraging interaction. They need to see that it is OK to be with friends, teachers need to show this to them, school and community leaders need to do this as well.

Children need socialization, time with their friends, they need to be together to learn lessons and other skills. How do we meet their needs as they develop, how do they learn to behave and treat people fairly, care for their fellow man, and love one another if they can’t even be around each other? The only way they can do that is by being together, playing, interacting, learning together. That does not mean on videos, it means face to face from the time they are little so that they can learn about each other throughout their whole life in many different situations.

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Every school district will need to look at each of their schools, breakdown the classrooms, and work through the issues. This is going to be much harder for some than others. I am glad that Supt. of Public Instruction Baesler understands that one size does not fit all. Local schools and parents must make decisions that meet their situation. Every child learns differently. Every family needs to look at the way education will be delivered and decide what is best for their child.

Parents need to know, sooner the better, what the public school system will be doing, so they can choose the best path for their children. Parents have choices, public, private or homeschool. If public schools are forced to use distance learning, parents may want to look at alternatives. A lot of tax dollars go to support a public education, some are asking if they should be paying for closed buildings and diminished education while handling a great deal of the schooling themselves and missing work. It’s a good question.

The recent Espinoza v. Montana case opens the door for parents to challenge where their money goes in educating their children. For many years people in North Dakota have wanted choice in education, the timing for the opportunity may be now. Parents have the responsibility for their children and if a school cannot deliver, they must look at options. The payments should follow the students, in part or in whole.