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South Dakota schools continue to cope with COVID-19 pandemic

The pandemic has forced many school districts to deviate from their goal of doing in person learning.
Many districts in South Dakota are starting their fall semesters this week. But depending on...
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Published: Dec. 1, 2020 at 6:52 PM MST
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PIERRE, S.D. (KEVN) - South Dakota schools are continuing to respond to the coronavirus pandemic in real time.

School districts across South Dakota have made adjustments to the pandemic in different ways. Many school districts including Huron, Mitchell, and Yankton, implemented mask mandates around the beginning of school.

Despite a desire to stay open, many have seen periods of closure.

“We had our spike early on that caused us to go to hybrid, we had about thirty cases in a one week period,” Pierre School District Dr. Kelly Glodt said.

Glodt presided over the decision to move TF Riggs High School from fully in person learning without a mask mandate, to “hybrid” learning with a mask mandate. The hybrid learning schedule meant that no more than half of the 829 students were in the school at any given time.

After a few months of the hybrid schedule, students are back to a fully in person schedule, with a mask mandate still in place. As COVID-19 cases continue to trend upward in South Dakota, Glodt says the district is in a better place for the precautionary measures that they took.

“The reason I say I think we are in a good place right now is our cases in the school district obviously have a gone up and down. Right now, as of yesterday, we have had six total student cases and three total staff cases across the district.”

South Dakota’s Department of Education has taken a hands-off approach to the issue, allowing schools to make decisions for themselves about how they should respond to the virus. The state Department of Education offers guidance on their website about safe practices for the school year. In turn, districts across the state have run the gamut in their responses.

As many continue to grapple with the coronavirus, and whether or not to move to online learning, students at TF Riggs High School say they hope to keep moving forward, so that they can enjoy school and the extracurricular activities that come with it.

“Prom, if we do not have a prom this year I would have never had a prom... with basketball and all the sports, it would stink to not have a season, and going to the games is always fun and we do not want to miss that,” says TF Riggs High School senior Brooke Easland.

The South Dakota Department of Education did not provide comment for this story.