There was a level of excitement in the air last Monday as students across the region headed back to school for the first time since November—in-person at least. While most school districts had some form of distance learning for a majority of their students to close out 2020, most school districts in this area opened its door to a majority of their students on Monday.

Count us in as being excited to see our kids go back to school in-person, even if there are some inherited risks associated with being in a school building with hundreds of other people each day. While we can get behind things like the mask mandate in certain situations, and things like social distancing, some of the recent mandates the Minnesota Department of Health and our governor have requested seem like a vast government overreach. 

For example, requiring high school athletes to wear masks while playing basketball and hockey, but not doing the same for college and professional athletes seems a bit ridiculous. We understand an argument can be made that professional and college athletics have access to greater testing, but maybe our state elected officials should be doing more to get these tests in the hands of high school athletes and school staff officials. It just seems very hypocritical to require high school students to wear masks while competing in athletics, but not people close-to the same age in college.

Masks are also now required for things like phy ed in school, which when said out loud also seems crazy. 

We also wonder if any of the people actually making these decisions have tried to play basketball or hockey while wearing a mask? If not, maybe they should and see what it’s like before requiring our 16 and 17 year olds to do so. We are worried about the prospect of kids overheating and getting sick from wet face masks.

Athletics aside, we also hope our governor will begin letting our small businesses and restaurants open up to the public in the new year. These closures are destroying small towns and rural communities to the point that business owners are finding ways to circumvent the law in order to stay in business.

Under the current emergency powers our governor has the power to essentially have unilateral power for things like masks, closing businesses and how people can operate things like schools. Unfortunately, power is something people spend a lifetime to get and rarely want to give up when they are in charge. 

We hope our legislators can find a way to work together and reign in some of the executive action our state leaders are taking to start the new year. There needs to be a common sense middle ground between the rules in place now and completely opening up our state for things like concerts featuring 10,000 people. 

Otherwise many people in rural Minnesota will continue to ask, what is the end game and when will all of this unilateral power end? Given the actions of the past year, we may never know as the target is changing all the time.