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SFSD ‘Return to Learning’ plan met with concerns from teachers

Another component of the plan is that masks would be highly encouraged, but not required. Some teachers disagree and would like to see masks required for all staff and students, so they are protesting.
Another component of the plan is that masks would be highly encouraged, but not required. Some teachers disagree and would like to see masks required for all staff and students, so they are protesting.(KSFY)
Published: Jul. 13, 2020 at 11:42 PM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) -The Sioux Falls School District just released a proposed "return to learning" plan for the new school year. It was discussed Monday by the school board at the Instructional Planning Center and was met with some concerns from teachers.

Superintendent Jane Stavem says the goal is to have kids come back to class beginning August 27th as long as the district is able to do that safely.

The plan outlines a daily screening process. Each morning, parents would need to go through questions with their kids and must be able to answer no to all of them for their child to go to school. Staff will do the same.

“One of the most important things in prevention is really just making sure that people are very, very diligent about sending their child to school when they are ill,” said Dr. Staven.

Classrooms may also look different.

“We’re going to face those desks straight forward now because that’s what’s recommended as we go through the CDC process. And just looking at a lot of physical changes like that, the hand sanitizer and processes that we’ll use throughout the building,” said Assistant Superintendent Jamie Nold.

Another component of the plan is that masks would be highly encouraged, but not required.

And schools will have PPE readily available to those who need it.

“To say we’re going to require it may mean to some that we are going to have disciplinary measures for children and for staff and we don’t want that to be the perception,” said Dr. Staven.

“We’re going to make every effort to have students and staff wearing masks, but there may be reasons why someone is unable to or may not be recommended for them to wear it.”

Some teachers disagree and would like to see masks required for all staff and students, so they are protesting.

“We basically want our voices to be heard. All teachers want to return to the classroom. We just want to make sure that we are protecting our students and ourselves and making sure we are going back in the safest possible way,” said Teacher Andrea Siebenborn.

“I do have an immune deficiency technically and so I could get COVID and potentially pass away. When it comes to teaching, if others aren’t wearing a mask it’s a lot easier to get that disease,” said Teacher Lizzie Hansen.

For those not comfortable sending their kids back to school there would be a Virtual Learning Academy option.

“Not remote learning like we ended this past year. It’s really a virtual academy that we’ll have teachers there to help and assist, but it’s not like they are going to teach the absolute lesson going through. It’s an online platform,” said Nold.

Because things can change on a day-to-day basis due to COVID, school officials say the plan is ongoing.

“We want to be as flexible as possible and as safe as possible with again that the number one priority of getting our kids in school,” said Dr. Staven.

According to Nold, a mask survey should be going out to parents and staff later this week or next week to get everyone’s input.

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