Area school districts forming plans for Fall 2021; SFSD to release ‘Continue to Learn’ plan by end of the month Original

Back To School

Back To School

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — The countdown to the start of next school year is on. 

School supplies are up in stores and the KELOLAND Back to School webpage has launched. Here’s a look at some area school district’s plans for this fall. 

On Monday, Avera Dr. David Basel told KELOLAND News he has been hearing many schools will not expect masks in classrooms. He said as long as South Dakota communities continue to stay at low levels of COVID-19 infections that would be “okay.” 

The latest K-12 school guidance for COVID-19 prevention from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention highlights the importance of in-person learning as the first “key takeaway.”

The second point listed by the CDC is vaccination is the leading public health prevention strategy and promoting vaccination will help schools with safe in-person learning. For people who are not fully vaccinated and older than 2-years-old, the CDC says masks should be worn indoors. 

The CDC said local public health officials and school administrators should work together and “consider multiple factors when they make decisions about implementing layered prevention strategies against COVID-19.”

Sioux Falls School District 

For the state’s largest school district, the 2021 Summer Learning Plan ends once the new school year starts on Aug. 26. Mask wearing has been optional throughout the summer in SFSD buildings and classrooms. 

SFSD spokeswoman Carly Uthe said a leadership team is creating a “Continue to Learn” plan for the 2021-22 school year. The first draft of the plan is expected to be released after July 28 for public input. 

“We are still working out the details, but we will have some form of digital communication that the public will be able to utilize to provide their feedback after they’ve had a chance to review the draft,” Uthe said in an email to KELOLAND News. 

The plan will need to be approved by the Sioux Falls School Board before the first day of school. 

Brandon Valley School District 

School starts on Aug. 25 for the eight Brandon Valley School District schools. During the BVSD School Board’s last meeting, a Pandemic Response Planning Committee was reinstituted for three meetings (July 14, July 21, and July 28). The plan will include recommended mitigation strategies and be finalized during the first week of August with final school board approval on Aug. 9. 


Harrisburg will start school on Aug. 19 and a restart plan is being finalized by August, officials said during Harrisburg’s latest school board meeting. 


Mitchell starts Aug. 18 and officials are seeking public input through a survey for a “safe return to school protocols.” 

You can find the survey on the school district’s website.

Superintendent Joseph Graves said masks will not be required for staff or students. He added all “safe return to school protocols” are tentative and changing conditions may require protocols to be revised.

For medical marijuana for students or staff, Graves said the school is waiting on additional information from the state but a procedures will be in place for the start of school.

Belle Fourche

The Belle Fourche School District reopening plan was approved by the school board on July 12.

Superintendent Dr. Steve Willard said “face coverings are highly recommend when in close proximity to others” for both students and staff.

Policies regarding medical marijuana are still in the development phase, Willard said.


Doland’s back to school plan will be updated in early August for the upcoming school year. Masks for staff and students will not be required. Doland will start school on Aug. 30.


Gayville-Volin will not require masks for students and staff. There are no rules involving medical marijuana in place at this time.

Lake Preston

Lake Preston will start school on Aug. 19. Masks will not be required for students or staff. A return to learning plan will be implemented at the August School Board meeting.


A back to school plan for Tripp-Delmont is being revised, but masks will not be required for students or staff. The first day of school is set for Aug. 18 and the school district is awaiting further guidance on medical marijuana policies.

Schools can email KELOLAND News at to submit information regarding Fall 2021 school plans. This story will be updated with plans as they are released.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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