Inside the decision to move high school classes online at West Central

KELOLAND.com Original
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HARTFORD, S.D. (KELO) — High school students in the West Central School District will be going virtual starting Monday. The decision to go remote happened for many reasons, according to the district’s superintendent.

Brad Berens is the Superintendent of the West Central School District. He said all options are on the table as the district navigates teaching students during a pandemic. The district is taking it day by day and will adjust plans as needed.

“We’ve been watching over the past few days the number of students that were out because of anything really. It’s not just COVID happening now; there are other things as well. That combined with the fact that we are struggling to find substitute teachers. It just, collectively, was too much,” Berens said.

Berens continued to say that the district has done very well, but a lack of substitutes has been discouraging. He said the pool of subs has shrunk because of some wanting to wait until COVID-19 settles down in the state. Plus, flu season is about to start as well, so there are a number of variables that contribute to the high school going to online learning.

“Our high school had 83 students gone; our middle school 45, and then our two elementaries 37 and 38. So, yes, it’s definitely at the high school that we are noticing a bigger percentage of students gone,” Berens said.

Another thing to account for is the care of the children. If kids aren’t in school, parents will have to find other means of supervision. Berens said the administration takes that into account while making decisions as well.

“In the younger grades, we are also aware that our parents are going to struggle if the kids are at home. We’re looking at everything. We’re keeping everything on the table. Our number one goal, yes, keep the kids and the teachers in the classroom,” Berens said.

As far as winter sports, Berens and his staff plan to follow the South Dakota High School Activities Association’s lead.

“We intend to move with the South Dakota High School Activities Association on activities for the winter. We’re looking at basketball and wrestling and the fine arts activities to move forward and doing everything we can to, again, mitigate in practices and rehearsals, games to hopefully stay engaged with those activities,” Berens said.

Berens said schools everywhere have been working even harder this year than ever. He said there are countless people in each district that are putting in extra work including teachers, transportation staff, administration, nurses, custodians, people in food service and others who deserve credit for working so hard during an evolving situation.

If you’d like to be a substitute teacher for the West Central School District, click here to apply.

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