LEAD — Lead-Deadwood School District administrators updated the board of education on the pandemic learning environment at a special meeting Monday, ultimately deciding to stay the course with a hybrid learning environment consisting of both distance and face-to-face learning, where five open COVID cases are part of the mix.
“We have had 20 total positive cases since the middle of August and five are active right now,” said School District Superintendent Dr. Dan Leikvold. “We have had 31 close contacts and 11 of those are still out and under quarantine. That does not include any cases from June or July, as those were not reported to us then, so that’s where we’re at.”
School district officials also discussed many tenets of the back to school re-entry plan, busing, lunch, remote learning, distancing, fan limitations at games, and how pandemic precautionary measures are faring at each.
“There are a lot of challenges there and we know that. We get a lot of positive feedback and we get some not so positive feedback,” Leikvold said. “We asked the board, ‘Do you want us to change the course? Do you want us to keep going?’ And they said, ‘We think we need to continue to talk, especially with staff, about the remote learning piece and how that looks. But, on most of the stuff, by and large, to continue to stay the course.”
Leikvold said the purpose of the meeting was to amend the district’s re-entry plan.
“It basically said, any student or staff who lives with somebody who tests positive has to quarantine for 14 days. And that has been the bulk of our issues here. Somebody lives with somebody who tests positive.”
In order to formalize the DOH recommendation into part of the district’s actual policy and to account for close contacts, the board approved adding the following language to the Lead Deadwood School District Reentry Plan concerning the temporary exclusion of students from a school setting for health concerns: “Any staff or student that has a person in their household test positive for COVID-19 will not be allowed to attend school for 14 days and identified close contacts will not be allowed to attend school for 14 days.”
The District will follow the South Dakota Department of Health’s “Recommendations for Temporary Exclusion from a School Setting” (available at https://doh.sd.gov/family/childhood/school-illness-exclusion-recommendations.aspx)which authorizes Leikvold to implement rules, plans and procedures for the application and execution of these recommendations.
Leikvold said that when the statewide back to school conversation began in May regarding how to reopen safely, all the school districts in South Dakota, superintendents, everyone else, thought the rules established by the Department of Health were requirements.
“The 14 days of quarantining from the Department of Health is and always was a recommendation, not a requirement,” he said. “The ultimate requirement of 14 days for anybody who has to quarantine is a local decision. Each school board can decide for themselves.”
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