Spearfish schools update COVID data

SPEARFISH — Spearfish School Board members received an update on COVID within the school district Sept. 14.

Fortunately, at that time, no students or staff have attended school while they were positive for COVID-19. The district releases data on Wednesdays regarding the number of active cases in each building. On Sept. 9, three cases in the district were recorded – none had been to school this year. As of Wednesday, there were two active cases, one at the middle school and one at Creekside Elementary School.

Data, which can be found on the district’s website under the “Information from the Superintendent” tab, also includes the positivity rate for people in the 57783 zip code as reported by Monument Health and Black Hills Urgent Care.

On Sept. 2, it was 8.9%; on Sept. 9, it was 5.5%; and on Wednesday, it was 6.1%.

The positivity rate is one of two metrics the district uses to determine COVID-19 operational plans. The second metric is using the number of active cases in each building.

School board members will also consult with Monument Health on their capabilities in determining whether to change categories.

“The fortunate thing with this is that while they are active, they tested positive prior to school starting and they haven’t been to school yet. We haven’t had to do any contact tracing with those three yet,” Superintendent Kirk Easton said of the people who tested positive.

“Thankfully, we haven’t had to do it yet, but we will soon, I’d have to imagine,” he added. “Other school districts, the administration is burning up their time (conducting contact tracing.)”

To that, he requested that the board approve hiring a person to coordinate with the state Department of Health. They approved the request.

He said that the CARES Act funding would cover the cost to hire the staffer.

Additionally, Easton reported that a total of 2,385 students were enrolled in the district. Another 177 students are enrolled in the virtual learning experience.

Public school exemptions are significantly higher this year. He said so far, 169 requests have been made – approximately 25% higher than normal.

Parents commonly turn in exemption requests through the end of the school year.

These requests are not for the virtual learning academy, rather they are for private schooled- and home schooled students.

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