Huron Superintendent Discusses Back-to-School Plan

School district starting in Phase 2
School district beginning year in Phase 2
School district beginning year in Phase 2(Dakota News Now)
Published: Aug. 21, 2020 at 7:39 PM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - The Huron School District is working closely with members of the Beadle County COVID-19 Task Force. They will advise the district on how to adjust their back-to-school plan as the fall semester unfolds. School starts in Huron on Monday, August 24.

“We all have a common goal and that’s to get back with our students in as safe an environment as possible,” says Superintendent Terry Nebelsick.

The Huron School District’s plan includes three phases, identified using the colors green, yellow and red. They’re starting the school year in phase two, which is yellow.

“Our board passed a resolution the other night that our intent is to start out in yellow to get our footing and give us the best chance to continue to be in session,” Nebelsick says.

In the yellow phase, schools are open for in-person learning, but masks are required for staff and students. That rule is more lax for students during recess and more lax for staff when they aren’t around students.

“There are a lot of parents who have a covenant with us that we are going to start in yellow and move cautiously. Now, it’s important to note I get phone calls from parents who are not happy that we’re requiring masks and in fact are not thrilled with the idea at all. There is no community in the state that’s unanimous on this, but that’s where we’re at, at this point,” Nebelsick explains.

In the red phase, buildings would be closed to students, who will all be doing distance learning. In green, schools are open and masks are, for the most part, only recommended.

“Our goal is going to be to get to green and I’m optimistic that it could happen quite soon. The analysis that the task force, because I’m a member of that task force, and we will look at the number of active cases, whether those active cases are increasing or decreasing and the location of those active cases. For instance, if we only had three or four cases, but they were school-aged children, that could be enough to push us over into the red. However, there could be 10 to 15 cases and if they were not connected to any of our families or any of our staff, but heaven forbid were in a care facility, then that might not move us to red, that might keep us in yellow as caution,” Nebelsick says.

“A factor for us, which will be just common sense, is that if we start out yellow on August 24, ten days later the State Fair starts. And if we could come back off of the state fair and get a reading for ‘Was there any community spread due to the State Fair or did we come out of the state fair and get through a quarantine session and we’re still in great shape?,’ that gives me optimism that we could get to green at that time,” he explains.

The district has also ordered various shielding equipment for desks and buses as well as face shields for staff. Nebelsick says there’s another important thing that will make the school year the best it can be.

“We had a school board member, Mr. Bischoff, who made a comment at a board meeting in July that I’ve never forgotten, and that is as all these difficult decisions are being made, if we can just be kind to each other, we’re going to get a lot further down the road, if we can be kind to each other, we can get through this.”

You can check out the district’s plan here:

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