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Lessons schools are taking into second semester during pandemic

Published: Jan. 4, 2021 at 10:17 PM CST
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) -Winter break is over for many school districts as they prepare to finish out the second half of the school year. Now that these schools have dealt with COVID for an entire semester, there are some lessons they’ve learned.

Last semester school districts across South Dakota were focused on coming up with mitigation efforts, constantly assessing and making changes as needed.

“We’ve been able to keep school going and I think that in and of itself is a victory. And it wasn’t easy. It’s been a hard semester and I think everybody is feeling some sense of hope now as we see the vaccine emerge,” said Sioux Falls Superintendent, Jane Stavem.

Superintendents say there are some changes they made that worked and will continue to be implemented in this second half of the school year.

For the Tea Area School District that includes requiring masks for staff and students within six feet of someone.

“Many of them said you know we don’t really like these masks, but we’d way rather be with our friends in these masks than be at home with our parents. So the kids have embraced what they need to do to be in school and be with their friends,” said Tea Area Superintendent, Jennifer Lowery.

The Tri-Valley School District will continue to have bus monitors who ensure kids are following social distancing guidelines.

“It’s gone really, really well and I’ll tell you our parents really stepped up as well. We have a bunch of parents that bring their kids to school and pick them up at the end of the day just to help alleviate the extra students on a school bus,” said Tri-Valley School District Superintendent, Mike Lodmel.

The district is however pressing pause on taking every student’s temperature for the winter.

“If they are wearing a stocking cap and gloves and all that kind of stuff we’d certainly hate to get an inaccurate reading. But if a student comes to school feeling warm or sluggish, they’re certainly going to visit one of our school nurses and we’ll go from there,” said Superintendent Lodmel.

In the Sioux Falls School District, Superintendent Stavem says cleaning protocols, along with mitigation efforts like mask-wearing is helping and will continue into this spring semester.

“It really takes everybody kind of trying to get to that same end goal to keep things afloat,” said Superintendent Stavem.

For all these superintendents their main goal for 2021 is to finish out the school year in person if possible.

“Our kids missed a big chunk of last school year. You know I have three children who are in school and I can tell you there’s a gap in there,” said Superintendent Lodmel.

“So I know there’s some stress on staff in that regard feeling like they have to play catchup, you know still from last year and I just think that staff, kids, and parents are doing an outstanding job of getting that taken care of and I think we’ve readied the ship right now and we’re going to be just fine,” he added.

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