School districts releasing plans for the upcoming school year

The end of summer means back to school, but what will school look like in Fall 2020?
Published: Jul. 15, 2020 at 2:10 PM CDT
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTA) - Area schools are releasing tentative back-to-school plans for Fall 2020.

"There's a lot of things to be considered in trying to get it right, and I think the key is knowing that we might not get it right, but we can get it better," said Sue Podoll, a teacher and President of the Rapid City Education Association.

Podoll said Rapid City teachers have not received much information about the plans for the 2020 school year. She thinks kids will be in class on the first day, but she thinks the date of that the first day is flexible.

In the Meade School District, the Sturgis Rally is a factor. Originally, the school year was slated to start August 31, but will now start September 8, to put give some space after the Rally.

The district has a tentative back-to-school plan with three phases-- green, orange, and red-- green is low risk with “normal face-to-face instruction,” orange is elevated risk with limited student contact, and red is high risk with distance learning.

"We truly believe that the best form of education that we can provide is face-to-face instruction," said Don Kirkegaard, Superintendent of Meade School District. "So, we're going to do everything we can to provide face-to-face instruction at the same time, we need to be very conscientious of the safety of our students, our staff, our faculty, our parents."

Kirkegaard said the district needs to finalize the rubric for moving from one color to another, and mask use varies by color.

Like Meade Schools, the Douglas School District also has three phases, with varying levels of mitigation strategies. They will factor Pennington County's two week rolling average to determine which level the district is at.

"It's not perfect, we tried to do the best by kids as we could, and we think we have a workable plan that's going to need improvements, it's going to need changes, it's going to need revisiting," said Alan Kerr, Superintendent of Douglas School District.

All districts said they will try to implement social distancing as best as possible and ask for parents' help and flexibility.

"The way I see it, we're all educators in this business and there's a lot of teachable moments," said Kerr. "For example, the way I'm going to approach masks is I don't wear it for me, I wear it for my son Hunter who has Type I diabetes. Just teaching kids that we don't do it for ourselves, we don't do it as a political statement, we wear masks for others."

Spearfish School District is projected to start August 27, with different procedures and rules at each school and three categories based on the potential amount of cases.

Many schools have also already canceled in-person graduations.

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