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Lemmon elementary students told to stay home after coronavirus outbreak

This comes as concerns rise for how Rapid City Area Schools will reopen in September.
Published: Aug. 25, 2020 at 6:05 PM MDT
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KEVN) - After just one week of schools reopening in Lemmon, the school district ended up sending K-5 students home for a few weeks after a small coronavirus outbreak.

This comes as concerns rise for Rapid City Area Schools reopen and the school board passing a level 2 reopen plan Monday night.

One hundred twenty-one students are staying home because four Lemmon elementary staff members tested positive for coronavirus Monday afternoon.

It leaves some people like Rapid City Education Association President Sue Podoll, to say “Wow. That’s very disconcerting is what that is.”

Lemmon School District Superintendent Steve Bucks said the district tries to social distance and do weekly specialized cleaning, but “No, we didn’t expect this to happen this quickly, but we knew it would eventually happen.”

At this time, Bucks said he is not aware of any student testing positive of the virus.

The Lemmon School District did not and still does not have a mask mandate.

Though it cannot be determined if a mandate was implemented that it would have prevented an outbreak but, many health officials strongly recommend people wear a mask when they cannot social distance.

One Rapid City school board member, who was against the level 2 school reopen plan and the mask policy, said she is not sending her child to school with a mask.

“My only choice now at this point is online distancing or at this point home school because she is not coming to school with a mask on,” Kate Thomas, RCAS school board member, said. And that’s probably going to have a lot of problems. And it is because she has her own reasons why she doesn’t wear it.”

But PoDoll agrees with the school board’s overall decision of the level 2 school reopening plan because it means more protection.

“I think it was the right decision. I mean, when you start looking at all the numbers. When you start seeing cases of 200 in the state, that was a pretty serious jump,” she said.

Bucks said over the next few days, Lemmon teachers are copying materials and preparing their lessons with the intent to start online learning for K-5 students on the last day of August.

While elementary students stay home, middle and high school students will continue attending in-person classes.

“I’m sure there are people that say we should have done this or that. But being that we did not have a lot of cases, we wanted to move forward and get going.”

PoDoll said, “I’d be curious to see how Lemmon plays out.”

Copyright 2020 KEVN. All rights reserved.

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