It’s May, and for every school everywhere, whatever is left of this extraordinarily strange school year, whatever can be concluded, whatever can be salvaged, is wrapping up — or coming as close to it as possible — right about now.

School officials are also looking ahead to the next school year, even though they are facing something that remains, essentially, unknown.

Tuesday’s edition of the Press & Dakotan offered a couple of glimpses of that.

The Yankton school board held its monthly meeting via video — this being done due to the COVID-19 pandemic — and the board decided it would put a freeze on the school lunch prices for next year. This is good news for many families, particularly those facing financial stress at this time. The board’s decision gave those families at least one fixed point by which to plan financially.

Also in Tuesday’s P&D, officials at Mount Marty College revealed their plans for moving forward, which will begin as soon as next week.

The school’s offices, which have been closed since late March, will open again — although public access will be limited. Also, the college will offer some summer school classes; these will mostly be online, but some classes that have very limited in-person enrollment will be offered while employing social distancing measures.

MMC officials are also setting their sights on the fall, although an official decision hasn’t been made yet on whether in-person classes will be held. If the students are back, safety measures will be deployed and accommodations for isolating students will be set up in case anyone tests positive for, or is exhibiting symptoms of, COVID-19.

Of course, for the Yankton School District and Mount Marty, the great unknown at this point is whether in-person classes will actually be able to start on time or in person.  

All assumptions at this point are that the school year for all schools will start this fall as scheduled, but they really are only assumptions that are needed for planning purposes, if nothing else. A lot can happen between now and then. Depending on your point of view, perhaps a lot NEEDS to happen between now and then.

For the moment, we hope for the best. The South Dakota Board of Regents recently announced that the state’s public universities are planning for in-person classes this fall. In Nebraska, officials have said they expect public schools to start on time late this summer. But nothing is guaranteed; nothing can be taken for granted. As we’ve all seen, the situation can change quickly and dramatically — in South Dakota and Nebraska, across the country and around the world.

Thus, schools also have to be contemplating the alternatives. They have to be thinking about what’s best for the students and staff. And in May, there are no sure answers about what August will bring.

So, for now, they plan, they wait … and they hope.



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