RAPID CITY, S.D. (KELO) — Five Rapid City Schools have switched to online learning due to the significant rise in COVID-19 cases. While it is important for kids to be in school, officials say their health and safety are even more important right now.

Stevens High school, West Middle school, Southwest Middle school, South Middle school and Central High school have shut their doors for the safety of staff and students.

Here at Central, you won’t be seeing these students for at least another week.

“Every week we will get together and we will decide, okay have we seen more cases coming in at those buildings, do we need another week and we’ll just go week by week,” Katy Urban, Communications Manager for RCAS, said.

Instead of switching to a “Level 2”, these Rapid City schools went straight to “Level 3,” which is all online learning.

“The reason is that we have students that, in “Level 2″, they are going to daycare or our teenagers are working on a regular basis, so they are mixing with different coherts of kids and then going back into our schools,” Urban said.

School officials thought that “Level 2” would actually cause more harm than good. They don’t intend on using that level very much, if at all.

While staff and students are currently out of the classrooms, nurses are hard at work contact tracing.

“That is something that is very crucial, especially because our goal is to get back to ‘Level One’ and so our nurses will continue to monitor the cases and the spread and the close contacts closely for students and teachers while we are in ‘Level 3’,” Amber Tilberg said.

Amber Tilberg, Rapid City Area Schools Health Services Manager, says because of the hospital’s “diminishing” capacity also played a role in switching the schools to “Level 3”.

“So that is something that we have to be very vigilant of and that we like to make sure that we are also trying to do our part in slowing the spread,” Tilberg said.

You can stay updated on the number of COVID-19 cases in the Rapid City Area Schools District at their website.

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