Rapid City School Board hears from both sides of the mask mandate debate

Published: Sep. 7, 2021 at 9:12 PM MDT
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KEVN) - Two separate groups protested amidst a spike in COVID-19 cases among teachers, staff, and students during the first weeks of in-person classes. Two board members proposed a temporary mask mandate, and a system in place to allow nurses to conduct contact tracing, both of which were ultimately struck down by the board at large.

One of the groups that gathered believed that a mask mandate within the school system, as well as many of the other proposed COVID precautions, would impede upon their personal freedoms.

“We want people to have a choice in the public space of what you do with your body, whether you get a vaccine or choose not to, whether you decide to wear a mask or not. But it’s about choice and it’s about freedom and it’s about the freedom to be educated the way you want,” says, Jordan Mason

Meanwhile, the other group gathered for tonight’s meeting expressed concern about the growing coronavirus case numbers across the Black Hills, especially with the rising spread of the Delta Variant, saying that the safety of students, teachers, and the community was their top priority.

“We want the School Board to take the Delta Variant seriously, knowing that it can affect our children, and a few of the children will get very sick, and there are children dying all across the United States from the delta variant,” says Willis Sutliff.

The Board also amended its procedure for updating parents and staff on COVID 19 cases within schools, voting to cease daily emails unless the recipient chooses to opt-in, with board president Katy Thomas saying, “The public may be surprised at how many parents did not want these emails.” The district will continue to update the online COVID dashboard with current active, recovered, and daily new cases.

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