BOX ELDER, S.D. (KELO) — The Douglas School District in Box Elder is masking up in response to a rise in COVID-19 cases.

Schools in many South Dakota districts are seeing teachers and students out sick. The Douglas District in Box Elder is no different.

“Besides COVID, there are so many other winter illnesses right now and all of those impact our school district from our staff being gone to our students. So our goal is really to just do whatever we can, whatever protocols we can put in place because ultimately we want to keep our kids in school,” Communications Coordinator for Douglas Schools, Katy Urban said.

80 students and staff tested positive for COVID-19. Which lead to the decision of transitioning into Phase 2.

This requires everyone to mask up and social distance when possible. There are also extra cleaning protocols.

“So we will be in this phase for two weeks and then we will re-evaluate our case numbers at that time. So this was part of the Back to School Plan that was approved by the Board at the beginning of the year and really it’s all based on the case numbers,” Urban said.

Dr. Shankar Kurra with Monument Health says schools should continue to do their part to slow the spread of COVID-19.

“When it comes to schools, the important thing is what we’ve always been saying. All the public health measures have to be followed in order to prevent the spread and more importantly cause illnesses that’ll create pediatric admissions to the hospital,” Dr. Kurra said.

“We don’t want to have to close our schools because we don’t have enough staff or there’s too many cases. So we feel like by putting more of these protocols in place, we will be able to stay open and keep students in class,” Urban said.

The Douglas Schools will continue to monitor the COVID-19 cases each day. That will decide whether they move back to Phase 1 or stay in Phase 2.