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Red Cloud students protest quarantine order by Oglala tribe

Published: Sep. 15, 2021 at 6:47 PM CDT
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PINE RIDGE, S.D. (KOTA) - There is an uproar among Oglala Sioux tribal students and educators over a quarantine order issued by the tribal government. The tribe said that it’s a protective measure as the delta variant continues its rise on the reservation, but many are angry that only schools are being shut down.

Students at Red Cloud Indian School are taking to the streets, and the doorsteps of tribal government to send the message that they want to continue in-person learning.

Tuesday, the Oglala Sioux Tribe issued a Quarantine Order for all K-12 schools on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. According to a statement sent by Vice-President Alicia Mousseau, all students and non-essential staff will have to stay at home for ten days starting on Wednesday.

Junior Jade Ecoffey said that sticking to in-person learning is essential for her sense of tribal pride, especially as a young person.

“The tribe has always listened to the youth,” Ecoffey said. “They have said they’re our future and we need to listen to the next generation because we’re going to be running this someday, and right now, they’re not listening to us.”

Educators are also concerned about the potential impacts of going back to at-home learning.

LeeVi Big Crow, a Teacher at Batesland Elementary School said that it’s unfair that only schools are being closed, while nothing else is.

“Much of our administration didn’t even know any of this was going on before it hit social media, and that just creates a whole lot of chaos and it gives way to heightened feelings that aren’t necessary, and so overall, I feel like this could have been handled a lot better.”

Big Crow said that schools on the reservation are where safety precautions are taken the most seriously.

Red Cloud Junior Samuel O’Rourke agrees.

“You have to have a mask on at all times when you’re in a Red Cloud building,” O’Rourke said. “Whenever you walk into the building, they have something that takes your temperature as soon as you walk through it, and teachers get on you about having your mask down. There’s also sanitizer on deck and all of that, and we haven’t had one case reported in our schools since we started.”

O’Rourke also said that 99% of Red Cloud’s football team is vaccinated.

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