RCAS school board approves mask mandate when school reopens

School board discusses approval of reopening plan Monday night.
About a dozen people protested outside of the Rapid City Area School Board meeting urging a...
About a dozen people protested outside of the Rapid City Area School Board meeting urging a mask mandate for the school reopening plan.(kota)
Published: Aug. 10, 2020 at 10:45 PM CDT
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTA) -Monday night Rapid City Areas School Board discussed the school reopening plan and have approved a mask mandate for students and staff.

By a 6-0-1 vote, the school board approved all teachers will have to wear masks. Other staff will either wear masks or social distance.

In a 5-1-1 vote, the board also approved the requirement for students to wear masks. Students will have to wear a mask in the classroom and in the hallways. But will be allowed to remove them when they eat or go outside for activities, such as recess.

Superintendent Dr. Lori Simon said there will be allotted break times for students to breathe and remove their masks throughout the day.

If an individual is not wearing a mask, one will be provided to them.

Simon said the district is also ordering clear masks to help students and teachers who may need to see the articulation of words when class is in session.

School Board Member Kate Thomas abstained in both votes with concerns about having a mask mandate.

“When you say you have a mandate there is going to be someone that comes up and says you have to put the mask on,” Thomas said. “And they shouldn’t have to say every single time I have an exemption. You’re intruding into their privacy as you do that. So how are you going to address that so that there isn’t harassment or possibly even bullying.”

While the mask mandate was a hot debate inside. It was a hot topic outside.

Before the meeting began, more than a dozen people protested outside with signs urging for the district to require masks to limit the spread of the coronavirus.

Another debatable topic was the distance learning plan as it passed in a 6-1 vote.

However, some board members were concerned about the suggested $2.4 million bill that the school district will receive.

Zoom will still be used as a tool for distance learning but Thomas raised some concerns about the possibility of hacking sessions.

Simon said the state is considering a deal with Zoom to provide this service for all schools statewide.

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