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DSU Provost: Madison Youth Not Doing Their Part to Check Coronavirus

My mention of Madison High School’s decision to cancel this weekend’s do-over graduation ceremony brought some word from the street that a huge July 4th party may have triggered the Lake County coronavirus surge that prompted Madison Central superintendent Joel Jorgenson to pull the graduation plug.

Shannon Marvel’s paywalled report on the Board of Regents’ decision to open school this fall with an indoor mask mandate includes a comment from Dakota State University provost Jim Moran that doesn’t mention a July 4th event but suggests that Madison youth may have precipitated their own graduation ceremony’s demise:

“In Madison in the last two months we’ve had situations where college and high school students have demonstrated that we’re not really sure they’ll be able to take full responsibility for the safety of others. Even though we have posters that say, ‘Don’t gather’, they gather” [Shannon Marvel, “Board of Regents Adopts Four-Tier Method to Mitigate Covid-19 Spread on University Campuses,” Aberdeen American News, 2020.07.23].

Funny—I thought kids had given up on gathering in favor of just texting and TikTokking each other. Shows how much I know. But then, I never knew where the parties were when I was a Madison youth.

It’s especially hard for young people to think beyond their own skins—that’s just developmental psychology—so we adults have to work extra hard and demonstrate by our consistent example that we’re not kidding: lives depend on doing the right thing. Stay home, mask up when you can’t, always keep your distance, and put off your immediate desires for the good of your friends and neighbors.

And if self-interest still trumps community safety, think selfishly: if that irresponsibility Moran mentions included that July 4th shindig, and if kids attended that event, well, golly: if they hadn’t gone, Lake County wouldn’t have seen coronavirus surge, Graduation B would still be happening Sunday, and we’d be that much closer to resuming more normal activities.


  1. Donald Pay 2020-07-24 14:32

    When adolescents and young adults have selfish and immature adult leaders to model their behavior after you can expect that their natural tendency to stretch boundaries becomes all the more irresponsible. Adults tend to define deviance down by not wearing masks and acting like delinquents if leaders provide any guidance or restriction on their behavior. The ignoramuses at Trump’s rally were mostly spoiled rotten adults. And we are surprised that the youngsters follow this example?

  2. Edwin Arndt 2020-07-24 16:44

    Naturally rebellious youth many times follows
    no example. That’s the reality of human nature.

  3. Debbo 2020-07-24 17:49

    Donald and Edwin, the two qualities together are a disaster guaranteed to happen too soon and likely again.

  4. Eve Fisher 2020-07-25 12:56

    There was a high school party where at least one kid who attended knew that she had the virus, and may or may not have told the rest. From there, it has spread. That’s why Lake County has (as of right now) tripled its cases in 2 1/2 weeks. One kid worked at a convenience store, one at the grocery store, and apparently all of them worked out at the high school workout room that was (for reasons passing understanding) given them to use by the Madison Central School District and why (BTW) a couple of weeks ago MCSD shut down all summer activities, mentioning that there “was a coronavirus.” More than one by all accounts. Meanwhile, Lake County is not exactly the epicenter of mask-wearing or willingness to do so.

  5. Wade Brandis 2020-07-25 15:31

    Just last night, and earlier this week, Madison Youth Baseball was still going on. The Ray Schultz field was packed with parents and their kids with no real social distancing observed from a distance. I walk on the trail that goes by that field on occasion. The grandstand wasn’t full of people, but most of the spectators sat packed together on the green surrounding the field, in lawn chairs and the kids were running about and playing on the playground equipment. The only real preventative measure they did was keeping the concession stand closed.

    Normally, I would go and watch the Little League games, but this year, I decided to value my personal health so I decided not to attend. Wearing a mask would have been uncomfortable because of the current heatwave.

  6. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2020-07-26 07:37

    Wade, I’m willing to give a little more slack to folks sitting outside, but you still have to sit apart and hope there’s a breeze to disperse the viral load.

    Edwin, I know teenage rebellion, but I also know that even when kids think they are rebelling in one way, they are following the deeply ingrained example of the grown-ups around them in multiple other ways. Our example matters.

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