School Board members reflect on student, parental and their own concerns about the 'new normal' in education

Submitted image
Submitted image

At a recent meeting, Grand Forks School Board member Jacqueline Hoffart said the move to home-based learning is an “ever-evolving” situation.

“I’m getting questions about prom, graduation and saying good-bye to teachers and seeing friends for the last time,” she said.

“As a parent, I’m starting to have a little anxiety. If this (closure) is for the rest of the year, and you have younger kids at home who (are learning online) six to seven hours a day, that’s going to get overwhelming for households.”

Longtime board member Dr. Eric Lunn, a practicing pediatrician, said: “It isn’t just the adults” who are feeling uncertain.

“Among the kids I’m seeing, there’s a lot of anxiety. I’ve seen 5- and 6-year-olds who are terrified," he said.


Catherine Gillach, assistant superintendent of secondary education for Grand Forks Public Schools, is fielding questions about “what’s going to happen with my schooling right now?” she said.

Geoff Gaukler, mental health coordinator for the school district, school counselors and social workers are working “on how to be accessible through this process,” Gillach said.

Gaukler, who attended the meeting, said: “People will be seeking information online -- more than usual.”

The district’s website is one vehicle that’s been used to address the need, he said.

“We’ve reached out to our community partners -- the CVIC, the Village, Lutheran Social Services -- on how to access (professionals) even though schools are closed,” Gaukler said.

As a public service during the coronavirus pandemic, the Herald has opened this article to all readers, regardless of subscription status.

Pamela Knudson is a features and arts/entertainment writer for the Grand Forks Herald.

She has worked for the Herald since 2011 and has covered a wide variety of topics, including the latest performances in the region and health topics.

Pamela can be reached at or (701) 780-1107.
What To Read Next
Get Local