School districts across S.D. meet to discuss mask policies, COVID plans ahead of start of school year

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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — To mask or not to mask? That is the big question at this year’s statewide meeting of school board members and Superintendent’s in Sioux Falls Thursday.

Superintendent’s and school board members from around the state met face to face today in Sioux Falls after last year’s virtual convention. Many school districts are staring to finalize their COVID mask policy.

“It is voluntary, but if you do choose it because it provides an additional layer of protection, safety and security for somebody, we encourage people and suggest that they do that,” said Brookings Superintendent Dr. Klint Willert.

But Brookings Superintendent Dr. Klint Willert is quick to point out the mask policy is not carved in stone.

“We have four different phases in our plan from the point where masks are voluntary and we have a lot of flexability to where we would find our selves in a full on remote learning environment,” said Dr. Willert.

So what triggers each phase of the plan? Three things: If COVID is getting wide spread in the community, if too many teachers are out sick or if the Brookings hospital is nearly full.

“And if any one of those three legs on the stool start tilting one way or they other, we have to make a decision and adjust accordingly,” said Dr. Willert.

The Associated School Boards of South Dakota says schools will need flexibility because one size doesn’t fit all.

“Some will require masks, some won’t require masks, others will encourage masks, so there will be a variety of positions, but those are local decisions that have to be made,” said Wade Pogany with the Associated School Boards of South Dakota.

Brookings is taking input from parents and teachers in the voluntary mask policy right now.

“We know that this is a decision that frankly isn’t going to make everyone happy,” said Dr. Willert.

But they are tough decisions that every school board will have to make.

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