SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Gov. Kristi Noem’s back to normal plan for the state won’t mean back to the classroom for Sioux Falls students but it could mean back to summer school classes and activities.
Noem said during a Tuesday news conference that part of her back to normal plan could allow school districts to return to classrooms, such as in groups of 10 students. But each district would need to decide its own plan, she said.
Sioux Falls School Superintendent Dr. Brian Maher said in an interview Wednesday that while remote learning will continue for the rest of the school year, there will be discussions about the district’s recovery plan, which includes summer school and summer activities.
“We had some beginning conversations for summer school and summer activities, I think what this really does is push those conversations forward,” Maher said.
The likelihood of summer school and summer activities is greater today than it was several days ago, Maher said.
A recovery plan must focus on “What does the rest of this school year look like?,” Maher said.
A recovery plan includes starting marching band, students checking material back into schools, evaluating progress of special needs students and other activities, he said.
“I’m not ready to say today what that plan is,” Maher said.
The school district responded within hours of Noem’s 3 p.m. Tuesday news conference to inform staff, students and families that the Sioux Falls School District would continue with remote learning until the last day of school.
Maher said it was important in this time of uncertainty and anxiety of the unknown to inform those impacted as soon as possible. The decision to continue with remote learning was made after he consulted with senior leadership but in large part, it was a unilateral decision that rests with him, Maher said.
Several factors impacted the remote learning decision including several days of no changes in infection rates in Minnehaha County and Lincoln County and following guidelines of city and health officials in the area, Maher said.
Noem’s back to normal plan is a chance for school districts to lead their districts, Maher said. The situation in Mobridge is different than the situation in Sioux Falls, for example.
It will be important going forward to make sure the Sioux Falls School District is “crystal clear” on its plans, Maher said.