South Dakota public schools create isolation areas for COVID-19-positive students

From dorm and apartment-style to curtain divided areas.
Published: Sep. 16, 2020 at 6:06 PM CDT
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BLACK HILLS, S.D. (KOTA) - Social distancing and self-quarantining can be hard for many of us. But, students have an additional challenge.

Schools at all levels across South Dakota have created areas for students who may be COVID-19-positive. From the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology.

“We have apartment-style, we have doubles that have specific restrooms, but they all are furnished apartments and spaces on campus,” said Katie Wahls, Interim Director of Residence Life and Community Standards.

To Douglas School District.

“One of them might be the nurse’s office,” said Bud Gusso, Douglas High School principal. “If that’s not possible, we actually purchased three different curtained dividers, and it really just kind of shields that person from any visibility to other students.”

Gusso said three temperature readings of 100.2 degrees would warrant going into an isolation area like this one at Vandenberg Elementary.

“If those three readings still look like it’s 100.2 or higher, that’s when we’ll have the students sit in an isolation area temporarily,” said Gusso. “So that they’re not completely visible to other students, we’ll call contact the nurse, the nurse will have a conversation, we contact parents immediately and then we would send that student home immediately.”

Douglas students would spend only a short amount of time in one of these isolation areas, but what about at the college level?

“Department of health actually contacts that individual to confirm that they meet a standard set of criteria for release and then the department of health notifies us once that person has had that confirmation phone call and is officially released,” said Wahls. “For quarantining individuals, they have a specific date set, and the department of health determines that as long as they wake up with no symptoms on that specified date, they are eligible to be released from quarantine.”

Although the students can’t leave their room, the School of Mines does allow staff or friends to bring students anything from food to stationary bikes.

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