Rapid City School Board voted to change school policies that had in place for years

Local News

RAPID CITY, S.D. (KELO) — The Rapid City School district is changing its response to COVID-19, and that’s not all. After hours of discussion and debate, the Rapid City School Board voted to change and get rid of rules that the district’s had in place for years.

Board members voted to get rid of a policy that outlines the superintendent’s authority and responsibilities. They also got rid of the policy detailing the board of education’s role and code of ethics. Board members plan to begin working on replacing those policies at the next meeting. But those aren’t the issues that brought parents out in droves.

Dozens of parents from the Rapid City District showed up at last night’s school board meeting to share their concerns. About half of the crowd supported masks… The other half did not.

“There are only a couple students in his class that are wearing a mask and that is fine, that is what their parents feel is the right thing for their child. I personally do not want my son wearing mask all day and I home schooled him last year because of that and I am home schooled him because of that,” RCAS parent said.

The large crowd cheered and booed as more than 70 people, including two doctors, spoke to the board.

“And I just want his year to be really good and I just want everyone to understand that it’s not just about the masks, it’s about lives and it’s about my family’s lives that could be taken from them,” RCAS parent said.

Superintendent Lori Simon showed the board a chart, showing how much faster cases are multiplying in Rapid City Schools, compared to last year.

She asked the board to reconsider taking more steps to protect children from the virus.

“I think we all realize that there are a wide range of perspectives on all things COVID related but I believe and I hope that we should all share a common goal of wanting our students in school learning while keeping students and staff safe to the extent possible,” Simon said.

The Board voted to include that social distancing is encouraged, COVID-19 notifications will only be listed on the school’s website, parents can opt in to email notifications, and for each time a student is tested for the virus, a parent’s consent is required.

“And masks aren’t no masks, it’s voluntary so that means you can wear a mask, we aren’t saying you can’t. That was a misunderstanding,” Kate Thomas, School Board President, said.

As of today, the Rapid City School District has 289 active COVID-19 cases, 35 of them staff.

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