First day back to school for RCAS students, but not all of them starting in-person

RAPID CITY, S.D. — Rapid City Area Schools students started school Sept. 8th. The much anticipated start is different from years past but staff and students are adjusting to the new changes.

The first day back to school in nearly six months since the first signs of COVID-19 spread in West River.

This school year presenting new challenges for all.

“This year is going to be a different year,” says Dr. Lori Simon, Superintendent for RCAS. “We’re starting at what we call a Level Two which means today and tomorrow students with last names A through K will attend school physically, and then they will learn remotely the rest of the week and students with the last names beginning with L through Z will attend Thursday and Friday.”

In a five day school week, a through k attends Monday and Tuesday in person. Names L through Z, in-person, Wednesday and Thursday. And everyone online Friday.
There’s no denying that schools across the black hills will be different this year.

“Three kids already came up to me wanting to give me a hug and that’s hard,” said Cassie Nack, a Kindergarten Teacher, at Valley View Elementary.

Teachers are doing everything they can to protect themselves and their students, by social distancing.

“We have our social-distancing hellos and goodbyes here so hopefully we can instill in them that routine too,” says Nack.

The back to school plan — a topic of debate for much of the summer months — is subject to change according to the level of covid-19 spread in the community.

Dr. Simon has the power to change which level the school district of 14,000 students is in, based off community spread and consultation with health care professionals and state officials.

Teachers will have to be prepared to make changes whether in-person or in online distance learning.

“Right away, just having the students come in they are so excited to see their friends that they aren’t maintaining that social distancing,” says Roxanne Evans, Fourth Grade Teacher at Valley View. “I think it’s going to go great this year. Just, encouraging the growth mindset and flexibility, just being flexible in just our thinking and our actions.”

Staff are up for the challenge that lies ahead, getting creative with the guidelines laid before them. And they remain optimistic and excited about what the 2020-2021 school year has in store.

Categories: Coronavirus, Local News, South Dakota News