Old School: The short-term future of Minnesota education

Troy Krause
Redwood Falls Gazette

Over the past few days I have had the chance to interact with Redwood County 4-H families from a safe distance and behind a face mask.

Honestly, it is hard to talk to people from six feet away when your words are being filtered by a layer of cloth or paper, and you can’t really tell what kind of reaction you are getting from people when you talk.

After all, you can’t see the expressions on their faces.

Among those I have interacted with are youth, including those who are very young.

I watched my Martha interact with the 4-H clothing judge July 13, and even I had a hard time understanding what she was telling her.

She, like a lot of people her age, is very soft spoken, and when you throw a mask into the equation it is hard to imagine any sound is getting through at all. As I was walking around I started to think about these young kids and a new school year.

How are teachers going to hear students in their classrooms, and how are they going to police their classrooms ensuring every student is keeping their masks on all of the time?

Yes, I am making the assumption if Minnesota has school starting in September that students will be required to wear masks.

When I was wearing my mask this week it became a huge distraction for me. I was thinking more about the mask and the discomfort it was wielding on me than I was thinking about anything else.

Again, if nothing else comes out of this whole situation, I have found a higher level of respect for those who have to wear masks for hours on end. Thank you again for all you are doing to keep us safe.

I noticed the kids fiddling with their masks, and I observed a few of the adults had their hands up by their faces regularly, too.

Although I am no expert, I would think the added rules which might come with school starting in the fall would create a level of anxiety in kids that would not be advantageous to their overall mental health.

Late last week, the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) announced the results of a survey it conducted. I did not take the survey, but apparently a lot of people did.

In the end, 64 percent of those who responded to the survey indicated that they want kids to be in school this fall.

Honestly, I do, too.

During the judging July 13, my Martha had a chance to spend time outside playing with some of her friends from school. With the exception of her cousins, I think that was the first time she has been around kids her age since she left school this past March.

I am convinced even those few brief moments did a lot of good for her psyche.

So, if school is started this coming fall I think the best approach is for kids to come in under what would be considered a “normal” environment – no masks and no social distancing.

Yes, I would allow for every child to have their temperature taken before they enter every day, and if they are showing any signs at all of coronavirus they should be sent home.

I think anything other than that would be counterproductive to offering students at any age a good education and establishing a setting where teachers can do their job.

If education is offered in any other form this fall I am not sure what the Krause progeny will do.