By Jariah Danks, 


Fort Berthold Indian Reservation – On August 19, school-age children of New Town will be going back to school online as part of a distance learning directive passed at the school board meeting on July 24. This school year will begin with 100% distance learning for the first four weeks. After considering several factors, including; parent and staff surveys and consultations with MHA leaders, on September 8, at the regular board meeting, the board will be reviewing updated information and considering when they will start to bring students back on campus.

In many ways, this school year of distance learning will be much different than last. Students are expected to be online and engaged in class at specific times between 8:30 am and 3:45 pm. There will be more real-time interactions with teachers and other students. 

The first three days will focus on making sure everyone is connected, and devices are working well following two weeks of packet work with online interaction. 

White Shield – Distance Learning will occur from August 19 – October 1. With considerations and recommendations of a local community survey, local health, state, and tribal entities, the school plans to begin a hybrid AB-AB model, a combination of both online/face-to-face instruction. The high school will use a rotating model that consists of both online/face-to-face instruction. Kindergarten students will begin using the hybrid AB-AB model. When the calendaring of groups is finalized, families will be contacted.

Mandaree school will be starting August 24 and will also be doing social distancing until October 16 and will be doing the hybrid AB-AB model. 

Parshall is planning to follow social distancing guidelines. Deciding the dates of return will occur August 24 through September 8, At the next school board meeting they will decide between face-to-face teaching and social distancing for the second quarter of the school year. They are currently requesting parents to notify the school on whether they want their children social distancing with hybrid learning or doing face-to-face learning. 

Twin Buttes – Elementary School is starting August 26, and they plan on doing face-to-face learning with the option of distance learning, so the parents have choices. The school has many safety measures in place such as, separate learning areas throughout the school. So far, 50 students will be doing face-to-face learning, while four others chose to do social distancing.

These are trivial times in our lives, especially for those parents deciding the best and safest solution for their children and their education: 

Alyssa Star, who works for the Education Department, as a Student Success Coordinator, voiced some of her concerns about going back to school, “I feel about 50/50 on my children being safe going back to school. I am happy that our school’s student numbers are considerably low. This is the first time low student numbers has ever served as a positive.” The mother of two, one in first grade and the second, going into seventh grade, further commented, “My kids know the importance of masks and hand sanitizer. Twin Buttes is taking extreme precautions when sending our kids back. So, I guess you could say, I do feel they will be safe, and if that should change, we will always just go back to distance learning. I do think social distancing will be effective. We have certain guidelines in place and have purchased new systems for the school that will help keep our students safe.” 

Alyssa Star has also served on the Twin Buttes school board for school for two years. It’s a position she thoroughly enjoys and has recently been elected for the community board. She hopes that every student will be positive and accomplish this semester, whether it entails social distancing or face-to-face learning. The goal is to maintain a sense of normalcy amongst all of the procedural changes in school work and Twin Butte’s student time.