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Survey shows how learning has been affected by pandemic
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Homework help and online learning community Brainly surveyed students in 2019 and 2020, and is sharing the results and how the pandemic has affected how they have learned over the past year.

The company surveyed 1,000 students in 2019 about their thoughts on the past school year and again at the end of 2020 to find out how the pandemic has impacted their educational outcomes, attitudes, and overall thoughts about the school year. The survey revealed year-over-year changes in students’ experiences and perceptions about the school year.

Here are a few highlights from the survey data:

The survey showed that student stress was a huge issue in 2020. Roughly 80 percent of students said they experienced moderate to high levels of stress during the 2020 school year, which is up significantly from 59 percent in 2019.

Many students are reconsidering college plans due to the pandemic. Nearly 46 percent of students said the pandemic and shift to online learning in 2020 has impacted their plans to go to a traditional four-year college or university after graduation.

When asked why, 33 percent said it was because of safety concerns about COVID while another 25 percent said it was high tuition costs. The other most cited reasons among those rethinking college were concerns about the risk of graduating and still not being able to find a job and lack of real-world career or industry experience in their chosen field.

Many students say they have struggled to focus while learning from home. When asked what the biggest challenge or academic hurdle they felt they were facing in 2020, 35 percent said it was trying to overcome distractions and trying to stay focused while learning from home. Another 27 percent said their biggest challenge was not fully understanding the material due to lack of in-classroom instruction time.

Students seem to be struggling on one particular category over another: Math. Mathematics was noted as the top subject students struggled with during 2020, with 45 percent of students saying it was the subject they performed worst in.

While some students struggle in certain subjects, online learning resources seem to be rising in popularity. Approximately 26 percent of students said they sought homework help from online resources and tools every day last year, while 44 percent said they used online learning resources at least several times a week over the past year. During the 2019 school year, only 42 percent of students reported using online learning resources to assist with their schoolwork.

At a special meeting of the Williston Public School District No. 1 board, school leaders shared some of their success in the past year. Williston Middle School Principal Duane Noeske shared that after the second quarter of the 2020-21 year, only 24.7 percent of students have an F, as opposed to 42 percent at the same time last school year.

Williston High School Principal Jason Germundson shared that 29.6 percent of students had a failing grade, down from 33.1 percent for the last school year. Germundson stated that he felt the school’s “Intervention Days” on Friday had made significant impact in heling students succeed. In terms of online enrollment, the high school reported 176 virtual students at the end of quarter 2, and showed a 63 percent success rate among its students.

To watch the entire District 1 board meeting, visit www.facebook.com/wpsd1.

Why masking up still matters
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A statewide mask mandate will likely be lifted on Jan. 18, but doctors say that doesn’t mean wearing a mask is no longer important.

“I wish we would just maintain the same habit,” Dr. Curtis Small, a physician with CHI St. Alexius Medical Center in Williston.

Gov. Doug Burgum announced this week that the order, put in place by interim state Health Officer Dirk Wilke in November, would expire on Monday, Jan. 8. That comes in the wake of a drop in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations.

As of Friday, Jan. 8, there were 2,122 active COVID-19 cases and 85 people in the hospital with complications from the disease.

Two vaccines have been approved to fight COVID-19, but while the roll out has started, relatively few people have gotten vaccinated so far.

“Social distancing (and wearing masks) will continue to be a very important measure to try and control this virus,” Small said.

Decreasing the risk of COVID-19 is what health care workers are focusing on right now, and they are finding more tools. Drugs like Bamlanivimab can be given to people who are at risk for complications and that can even keep them from getting dangerously ill.

The range of possible severity makes COVID a difficult problem. There can be children in a household with no symptoms while an adult living there might get very seriously ill.

“It’s a very insidious virus,” Small said.

Those serious cases can cause major problems even if the patient survives. Some people who had serious cases of COVID-19 are dealing with serious complications, including loss of lung tissue.

The potential dangers are why overlapping precautions — like wearing masks and staying six feet away from others even while the vaccines are being rolled out — is important.

There are concerns about new strains, including one from the United Kingdom that was recently found in the United States and another that was recently discovered in South Africa. Small said the vaccine has proved effective against the UK strain and scientists are still studying the other variant.

“It’s still wise to get vaccinated,” Small said.

He said he’s gotten the first shot of the Moderna vaccine and had no side effects. Some people do get sore at the injection site or get a headache, though.

“That’s pretty much the most I’ve heard from people getting the vaccine,” he said.

Man accused of having explicit images of underage girls
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A 25-year-old man is facing more than a dozen felony charges after police say they found sexually explicit photos of young girls on his computer.

Benjamin Schneider was charged Thursday, Jan. 7, with 15 class C felony counts of possession of prohibited materials after police say they found images of girls as young as 4 to 6 years old while serving a search warrant. He was ordered held on $100,000 bond.

Investigators from the North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation searched Schneider’s home on Tuesday, Jan. 5. They found sexually explicit images of at least six girls on a computer, according to an affidavit of probable cause filed in Northwest District Court.

Police also said Schneider appeared to admit possessing images of underage girls.

“S/A (Jared) Olson asked Benjamin Schneider if he knew what the search warrant was regarding, to which Mr. Schneider stated, ‘child pornography.’ Mr. Schneider further stated that he has ‘a problem I can’t break.’”

A preliminary hearing on the charges is scheduled for Feb. 3.

Chamber's Young Professionals host Lunch and Learn on personal branding
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The Williston Young Professionals program is hosting a virtual Lunch and Learn event, focusing on helping young entrepreneurs perfect their personal brand.

The Young Professionals is a program of the Chamber of Commerce, and consists of young people who come together monthly to facilitate personal and professional networking, and promote the growth of young emerging leaders in the community.

“We believe that the young people in our community can make a difference in Williston and have an impact on strengthening the connection between younger professionals and leaders in the area and with the community as a whole.” Rochelle Villa, Chamber Member Services Coordinator told the Williston Herald.

Due to the pandemic, this month’s Lunch and Learn event will be held virtually, and will feature speaker Laiken Aune, a Program Director for North Dakota Women’s Business Center, who will present on the importance of Personal Branding. The program will be held on Tuesday, Jan. 12 from noon to 1 p.m.

“Everybody has a personal brand whether you want one or not,” Aune said. “In a world where career changes happen more frequently than before, it’s important to know what you stand for, what your values are, and how you’re perceived professionally, so you’re not limited by your brand when it’s time to make a change. We’ll walk through some simple exercises to help you identify your values, increase your self-awareness, and discuss six strategies to help you build the brand you want.”

Villa said one of the covered topics will be how one can develop their brand during a pandemic, and the event is an opportunity for young professionals to hone their skills as virtual networkers, especially as the pandemic continues to put in-person events on hold.

“We know that a lot of people want to get back to in-person events, and we’re hoping that we can do that soon,” Villa said. “But this opportunity will be great for interacting with people in a virtual space, which may become more of a norm for us in the future. So we encourage people to use this opportunity to learn to network virtually and to navigate these different forums in a way that help you to continue to develop your personal brand.”

Anyone interested in attending can register at www.willistonchamber.com/lunch-learn. Visit willistonchamber.com and facebook.com/willistonchamber to keep up-to-date on all Chamber happenings and events.

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10th annual Donn Skadeland Night slated for Jan. 15, Jan. 21
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The 10th Annual Donn Skadeland Night at Williston High School will be held on Jan. 15 for the WHS girls varsity basketball game against Minot and on Jan. 21 for the WHS boys varsity basketball game against Minot.

The focus of the nights is to honor the memory of Donn Skadeland and includes awarding a $500 scholarship to the WHS player of the game in both the girls’ and boys’ games.

Skadeland passed away in July 2011.

WHS, the Skadeland family and American State Bank & Trust Company of Williston hosted the initial Donn Skadeland Night and Scholarships in 2012, according to a press release, and in nine years $10,500 has been awarded to WHS athletes.

In a joint statement, WHS Principal Jason Germundson and ASB&T Chairman of the Board Pat Sogard said the award is a way of honoring Skadeland, who was an “outstanding student athlete in his years at WHS and who remained a loyal supporter of WHS student athletes throughout his lifetime.”

“We are proud to partner with his family and the Coyote Foundation to celebrate his life and his love of sports,” Sogard said. “ASB&T is deeply honored to help with this event as Donn was a member of its Board of Directors for many years.”

The scholarship has been funded by the Skadeland family and ASB&T and will be distributed by the Coyote Foundation.