South Dakota’s schools are feeling the pressure to keep students and staff safe


School districts across South Dakota are feeling the pressure when it comes to dealing with the coronavirus.

A lot of them are saying they are frustrated, they’re concerned, and they’re fearful trying to keep their students and staff safe.

Running a school district in these trying times is extremely difficult according to administrators.

“I’m telling you this is like nothing anyone has seen before,” Director of School Board Development Jim Holbeck said.

Holbeck, who used to be a school superintendent, is now doing consulting work for all public school districts across South Dakota.

He sees their concerns.

“I think all of them are feeling the fear that they might make a decision or something might happen where somebody will lose life, because of school going on; whether it’s a child, God forbid, or if it’s a staff member or a kid takes it home to their parents,” Holbeck said.

Holbeck says the schools are doing the best they can with the information they have from the state health department and their own communities.

He says one size doesn’t fit all and he knows everyone has an opinion.

“That’s probably human nature, but this is really a tough time for people to come in and second guess these things, because nobody is making a decision to harm kids, they’re all trying to help kids,” Holbeck said.

“Through all the academic training, school administrators never was there a course or a class running a school during a pandemic,” executive director of School Administrators of South Dakota Rob Monson said.

Monson, who is the executive director of School Administrators of South Dakota, says information about the coronavirus changes almost daily, if not hourly, and that’s what administrators have to deal with to keep students and staff safe.

Don: There’s got to be a level of stress, concern, fear, and frustration?

Rob: Absolutely, everything you mentioned all wrapped up into one,”

Monson says we will get through this, it’s going to take time, patience and support.

“I’ve said this before, we are trying to keep this airplane in the air, because we do understand the economic value of the children being in school when parents can go to work and not have to worry about their kids, because their students are going to school that’s extremely important and I guess the message I would like to put out there to the general public is take a minute and shoot your school administrator an email or a phone call or a text ad teachers as far as that goes and school board members and just prop them up a little bit and let them know how much they’re appreciated for what they are trying to do in these extremely trying times,” Monson said.

There are 149 public school districts across the state and Holbeck says they all have to do what’s best for their schools and communities.

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