Students will head back to school on Thursday, Aug. 20

Steps being taken to address coronavirus safety concerns

An early morning school board meeting was held July 27 to discuss home schooling and a plan for bringing students back to school this fall.

The meeting started with a letter read from the South Dakota State Medical Association with their recommendations about how to address the start of the school year.

The letter strongly recommended that students, educators, and staff wear face coverings and follow CDC guidelines in the fight against the Covid-19 virus spread, specifying that cloth masks and face coverings are recommended to be worn by all people over the age of two years old. It went on to suggest the importance of social distancing, hand washing, and sanitizing surfaces.

It was reported that meetings were held with staff and community members regarding the opening of school. Following expectations from the Department of Education, Department of Health, and other guidelines for the health of the students and staff, the school district put preventative measures in place to reduce the spread of the virus, and put together a plan that can be done in phases, which can also change quickly as necessary.

The first phase, which is the plan currently in place for the start of the school year on Thursday, Aug. 20, will be considered “normal operations” with a full schedule and full student and staff attendance.

Some of the mitigation efforts will be to educate on symptoms of the virus and promote self-checks, along with entry screening at the school. It was reported at the meeting that the school is in the process of acquiring a thermal screener that will be located in the commons area, which works with the school’s camera system to check temperatures of people entering the building.

In school, students and staff will wear masks, and proper mask wearing will be taught to the students. They will be worn anywhere physical distancing is not possible. Lunch schedules will be modified to allow for distancing, and desks will be spread in classrooms, or plexiglass or similar dividers will be put in place.

Although it was recognized that there will be a learning curve for the start of school, every effort is being taken to maximize the safety of the students and staff, and it was agreed that it’s important to bring the students back into the school.

Some teachers in attendance talked about ways they are planning to work with the students to maximize learning while incorporating more safety measures.

Parent meetings were held at the school gym earlier this week to introduce the back to school plan. Watch the News for more info.

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