Teachers and students in the Black Hills set for return to school on September 8

STURGIS, S.D. — Teachers around the Black Hills say they have a positive outlook on getting students and themselves back into the classroom.

However, with no concrete plan set in place, the teachers are curious as to what they can expect next month.

Most teachers and students will be back in the classroom in some form this fall following CDC recommended guidelines. Both Meade County and Pennington County school districts are working to implement a three-phase plan.

Teachers are eager to see how they will be able to do some forms of teaching, like one music teacher in Sturgis, who is having to find new ways to teach her students.

“For me being in music, we’re not allowed to sing inside, so that’s a huge difference when you are teaching music without singing,” said Mary Ann Stenbak, a Music Teacher at Sturgis Elementary. “If you look at the guidelines, you can actually go outside, spread out. And then just make sure that they each have their six feet and can still do a little signing. But it’s gonna be a lot of rhythm, we’re switching the curriculum to match what we can do to keep kids safe.”

Face masks will be recommended when social distancing is not an option. Making it difficult for teachers, especially elementary, to read how their students are doing with facial expressions.

Leigh Shaw, Kindergarten Teacher at Pinedale Elementary said,

“We’ve been brainstorming a lot on how to keep and build relationships even through a mask. We’ve had a lot of professional development this summer on how these changes are going to affect styles of teaching. Even this morning, I had a class where we saw pictures of kids in masks and had to try and read their emotions through the masks. So we are working on it, we’re gonna try and do it safely and do it the right way.”

Schools start back up on September 8 across the Black Hills, but teachers have already set up their classrooms and are hoping for the best this school year.

Categories: Local News, South Dakota News