Noem: SD Schools Closed Through May 1

In this video capture image, South Dakota Secretary of Health Kim Malsam-Rysdon answers a question from the media while Gov. Kristi Noem looks on during a media briefing Tuesday to provide updates on the coronavirus pandemic.

Following another school-closing directive from Gov. Kristi Noem at a press conference Tuesday morning, the Yankton School District (YSD) announced that it will remain closed through May 1.

“The governor’s decision to close schools based upon the changing coronavirus information and CDC recommendations is a very good decision,” YSD superintendent Wayne Kindle told the Press & Dakotan. “The health, safety and well-being of our students, as well as communities, must continue to be the priority.”

Following Noem’s newest guideline, the school district announced that it would continue providing the Alternative Education Plan (AEP) through Friday.

Also, the South Dakota High School Activities Association (SDHSAA) announced the cancellation of all spring sports through May 3, in accordance with Noem’s request.

Beginning Monday, YSD assigned all students K-12 work across core subjects that they must do from home. Students who can are working online. For those without internet access or devices, printed packets have been made available for pick up in each of the school district’s vestibules.

“We will continue providing an Alternative Education Plan (AEP) for all of our students Preschool-12 as best we can for our students and keeping our employees safe following CDC/State recommendations,” Kindle said. “Our building principals and teachers will remain in contact with our students during this time and updating our Alternative Education Plan.”

In addition to the AEP, special education students on Individual Education Plans (IEPs) will receive packets with activities tailored to each student’s needs and IEP goals, Kathy Wagner, YSD director of Student Services, told parents Tuesday afternoon.

Packets are being mailed out and will be followed with communication from special education staff, she said.

In all recent YSD communications, parents have been continuously encouraged to get in touch with teachers or service providers with questions and concerns.

Also last week, YSD began offering free grab-and-go meals at three locations in the school district for children under age 18.

During Tuesday’s press conference, Gov. Noem praised the actions of school districts across the state, during this emergency.

“I think we’ve always known (the teachers) love these kids,”Noem said. “They care about their future and they want to make sure that they don’t fall behind — no matter what’s going on in our state (and) in our country.”

The May 1 school reopening date will be revisited and can be adjusted during the next few weeks as the situation with the virus develops, Noem said.

“This will give us time to make sure that we are flattening and bending the curve of the spread of the infection in the state of South Dakota,” she said in Tuesday’s press conference. “It gives (our school systems) some consistency at the district level on how they will teach these children at home or at a distance.”

As of Tuesday, two new cases of COVID-19 were identified in South Dakota, bringing to total number of South Dakotans to test positive for the disease to 30. Eight individuals are listed as having recovered, and 268 tests are pending.

“Projections, models, data and facts tell us that we have another eight weeks potentially until we see our peak infection rate, which means we expect more and more people to become infected with COVID-19 over the next eight weeks,” Noem said. “So whatever decisions we make that impact families, how we do our day-to-day business, how we run our operations, how we care for people needs to be sustained long term.”

In addition to working with students from home, educators will eventually have to consider how students are to be graded on work from home.

“There are benchmarks that I’m sure we will be discussing with our Department of Education and local school administrators that our kids will be expected to meet,” Noem said. “However, the federal standardized testing requirements have been waived. So there will be no reporting requirements to the federal government on testing and what those scores would be at this level. But at the state’s level, I’m sure that these school districts will still continue their assessments as best they can in this unique situation.”

For more information, go to www.ysd.k12.sd.us

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