SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) – As the school year starts to wrap up, many students are looking ahead to summer activities. Meanwhile school districts are looking back on an unprecedented year and what lessons they can learn.
Over the past year, the pandemic forced teachers and staff to come up with creative ways to safely keep students inside the classroom.
“At a high school level it was directional flow in hallways and how we were going to move kids from class to class instead of the herd, doing things a little bit differently,” Sioux Falls School District superintendent, Jane Stavem said. “At the elementary and middle schools it was how kids came in in the morning instead of lining up we allowed kids to come in as they came, so kind of avoiding some of those larger crowds and then in classrooms sometimes there were barriers in place.”
Stavem says the district gave families a daily update when students tested positive for COVID-19. The district also reached out to close contacts for every case.
“We chose to manage it by classroom and there were a few classrooms here and there where we needed to have a larger quarantine of an entire room, some of those were preschool classrooms, but that didn’t have to result in a school closure,” Stavem said.
Then teachers and staff received the news they had when waiting for — they could get the vaccine.
“The fact that it was effective and all helped and we could definitely tell that there was a sense of relief when that became available for our staff and we had many staff that took advantage and became vaccinated, so that has been, provided some hope at the end of a very long year,” health services coordinator, Molly Satter said.
District officials credit the collaborative effort from everyone to make this year a success.
“I couldn’t be more proud of everybody because as you know, in the world right now there is not wholesale agreement on anything and to have people to come together, I think it really worked well because we kept our focus on what is most important, and that is our children,” Stavem said.
Looking ahead to summer programming, masks are expected in classrooms and social distancing is encouraged when possible.