SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — With the fall school year quickly approaching, the COVID-19 pandemic has sparked questions about how to send students and teachers back to the classroom safely.
Nicole Pick says her two sons are excitedly awaiting their first day back at Harrisburg Explorer Elementary this August– where a COVID-19 back to school plan is already in place.
“We did get some kind of a back to school plan emailed from the school to us, and it’s strongly recommended for all students to wear masks to school,” Pick said.
In addition to the typical school supplies, she says her kids will have masks too. Avera Health recommends all students and staff wear a mask in school.
“The sciences is pretty clear that masking works. Masking is effective, and I think it gives us the best likelihood of having the highest number of days in person learning,” Dr. David Basel said.
Avera Health Dr. David Basel says in-person learning is preferred over virtual learning due to the benefits it provides– but only if it can be done so safely.
“I think that COVID is going to be with us for a while. The numbers have been, across the state of South Dakota have been really pretty consistent for the last month or so, and not showing any signs of continuing to decline. And so this is going to be something we’re just going to have to continue to monitor and there may be times if we see a peak for a while that we have to go back to virtual classes for a while,” Basel said.
Something he wants both students and teachers to take seriously is if you don’t feel good, stay home.
“We’ve had discussions with multiple districts that they’re going to have to plan on having an increased need of substitute teachers this year likely because of that,” Basel said.
He says the key word for everyone is flexibility.
“We’re gonna learn, you know, how long do you have to keep the school closed if they have, you know, if they have one case, if they have five cases, you know, what are all those policies? And that is really gonna evolve as we go through this fall, as we’re breaking new ground every day, using the best scientific evidence all the time. But as we gain more evidence, probably those policies are going to change as the fall goes on. Flexibility, flexibility,” Basel said.
“You just have to have faith in the school district that they’re gonna make the right decisions for these kids to keep them safe and keep them healthy. And I think Harrisburg has a great plan put in place. So I’m ready for school to start and I’m ready for the kids to get back into it,” Pick said.