Area school districts make school year decisions

As we get closer to the beginning of the school year, Meade School District 46-1 and Douglas School District are making plans to return to the classrooms.

BLACK HILLS, S.D. — Meade School District 46-1 is planning to head back to the classroom on September 8 with in-person learning for students.

On Monday, July 13, the school board approved the calendar and talked over a three-phase plan that would be determined by level the of COVID-19 risk. As changes develop throughout the year, the working document would change learning style and precautionary measures, like wearing a mask.

For students and staff who are medically fragile or those who are not comfortable with in-person learning, the district will provide a robust online educational opportunity.

Each school building in the district will be a case-by-case determination of the phases. The goal to do as much face-to-face instruction as possible with safety at the forefront.

Meade County School Superintendent, Don Kirkegaard says,

“We need to make sure to balance both of those things so that we are doing what is absolutely best for kids, educationally, but also we are conscious about not putting our students and our faculty in harm’s way because of being too aggressive on face-to-face education.”

He says that with no guarantees that the virus won’t spread, the best they can do is be prepared.

Kirkegaard says,

“I wish that we could say it’s 100% it’s not gonna happen, but we can be confident that we are going to do everything we can to try to provide safe health guidelines, to provide social distancing; so we will do everything we can to provide ongoing safety.”

Other aspects of the plan include additional sanitizing efforts and scheduled hand washing for elementary students.

Douglas School District is also making plans for the school year, with plans to begin school on August 31. Professional development days will be held prior for faculty to get trained with online platforms.

The school day will be 25 minutes longer to get as many instructional hours in a day as possible. They intend to work the plan with three phases of readiness and adapt to any changes.

Alan Kerr, Douglas Schools Superintendent says,

“We are going to get the training, get ready and we are going to make it a part of our daily curriculum, that we integrate distance learning platforms into our daily learning.”

Douglas will be using their CARES ACT money to purchase devices for students who need them for distance learning. In total, distributing about 500 devices to students and also looking into assisting with WIFI needs.

Kerr says that school provides many valuable services to students saying,
“I mean we provide so many services, we have been asked to do that over the years increasingly more that I think that almost school is an essential; we are all essential workers, almost.”
Categories: Local News, South Dakota News

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