HURON, S.D. (KELO) – According to the South Dakota Department of Health’s latest numbers, there are 5,970 active COVID-19 cases in the state. As that number rises, some schools have begun discussing the possibility of requiring students to mask up again. Huron has done so, as have Mitchell and Yankton.
Starting Tuesday, the Huron School District will move to the threshold 3, or yellow, phase of their pandemic contingency plan. This was the phase the school district was in for all of the last school year. It means that all staff and students will be required to wear a mask while indoors and on busses.
“The infection rate for COVID-19 continues to increase in our schools and in our community,” Kraig Steinhoff, Huron Superintendent said. “Being the Fair City, the State Fair brings in thousands of people to Huron and we know that that could be a potential spreader event. So we want to be prepared for that when the kids come back to school on Tuesday.”
The decision came after the Beadle County COVID-19 Task Force’s operations team requested that area schools require masking.
“I do see benefits to wearing the masks. Not that I like them, I don’t know anybody that really likes them, but I do know that they prevent illness,” Rita Baszler, a school nurse with the Huron School District, said.
The school’s social distancing shields will also go back up and activities like assemblies and field trips will be suspended.
“I want families to know that we will continue to collaborate with the Beadle County Operations Team to allow us to determine when we can move back from threshold 3 and the yellow color,” Steinhoff said. “I personally don’t believe that this will be forever, it will be only while we need to.”
“I just want to remind the parents that we are in the COVID epidemic and please screen your children,” Baszler said. “If they are not healthy, have a sore throat, runny nose, trouble breathing, abdominal discomfort, a fever and other symptoms, keep them home until you know what the illness is. It will help all of us.”
Steinhoff says school extracurricular activities and sports will go on as normal. Masks will not be required for fans. Masks are, however, recommended.