Parents concerns about the RCAS school reopen plan

The approval of the school reopening plan Monday night caused parents to ask more questions.
Published: Aug. 11, 2020 at 7:09 PM CDT
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTA) - Though the Rapid City School Board approved the school reopening plan last night, it left some parents asking questions.

This year, parents will have the option to enroll their children in either distance learning or in-person class sessions.

Whatever option a parent chooses they have to stick with it for at least 1 trimester on the elementary level or 1 semester for middle and high school students.

“But for middle school and high school kids waiting till January if this doesn’t work could be detrimental to their whole school year,” Amy Sazue, a Rapid City parent said.

But a different parent said a full year commitment is better.

“I kind of just want to take it full on as it was before, it’s hard for full time parents to try to figure out what they are going to do with kids on that second half. My son is ready to go back to school. He doesn’t want me teaching him anymore,” Kristin Garvin said.

But what will the school do if students or teachers get sick with COVID-19?

The state department of health is supposed to inform the superintendent who will then inform all parents.

While the sick individual is under quarantine the school will identify who was in close contact.

If the district determines the whole class came in close contact with the COVID-19 patient then that could mean the entire class will have to quarantine for two weeks.

There is also some concerns on how all parents will find out about the full school reopening plan.

The last day of school registration is just days away with the set date of August 17th.

“40 percent are not attached to the internet so we need to figure out other ways as well to bombard the citizens of Rapid City,” Jim Hansen, an RCAS board member, said at Monday night’s meeting.

Superintendent Dr. Lori Simon said they will use social media and parent groups to spread the word about the plan and the next few days will be adequate time for parents to make a decision.

However, Sazue said there is a strong Indigenous people presence in that 40 percent who cannot be neglected from the outreach.

"This community needs to have a voice in this conversation and they haven't. I think it's time that we stop overlooking those boundaries and those inequity issues."

But Katy Urban, RCAS communications manager, said the 40 percent refers to the struggle families faced at the beginning of the transitioning period due to the pandemic. She said there are many other factors that could have caused problems for families to connect with online classes.

Urban said the real number of concern is less than five percent.

“That is grossly inaccurate. I mean certainly we are not going to get every person to take a survey we send out in our district that is just unrealistic,” Urban said.

She said through past studies parents have expressed that online postings or emails are the best methods for them.

Therefore, Urban said sending paper notifications would not be the wise move.

But a clerical staff is available to help if need be, she said.

Either way time is ticking as we quickly approach the first day of school on September 8th.

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