School superintendents explain decision to temporarily transition to online learning

Local News

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) – The COVID-19 pandemic has schools across KELOLAND taking steps to keep students and teachers safe. As cases start appearing in schools, some districts have temporarily transitioned to online learning to help mitigate the spread.

Students at Watertown High School will be doing online learning this week, due to a high number of positive COVID-19 cases and close contacts.

“We had a climbing number of cases coming back after the weekend, and being notified on Monday and so with the amount of positive COVID cases, coupled with the contact tracing and close contacts, we had a significant amount of students that would be out for the week,” Watertown School District Superintendent, Jeff Danielsen said.

Watertown’s superintendent, Jeff Danielsen, says making this decision can be tough.

“One of the reasons we started was obviously to have kids in school and we think that is the best place for them so anytime we have to make the decision not to be coming in person and working with our teachers, we don’t take that lightly and so it’s not an easy decision,” Danielsen said.

Middle and high school students in the Chamberlain School District will also be doing eLearning this week.

“It’s a tough decision, there’s a lot of factors that go into it, one you have to be set up to provide internet to families that don’t have it at home, and so we work with our local company, and we had a couple that said we don’t have internet and so we are working to get that, you also have to look at can you provide food to those families, a lot of our families eat two meals a day here,” Chamberlain School District superintendent, Justin Zajic said.

Additionally, all classes of junior kindergarten through 12th grade at Stanley County in Fort Pierre have transitioned to distance learning for the rest of September.

“This is what we’ve been preparing for, it was never an if, it was always a when, so we are ready for this,” Stanley County Public Schools superintendent, Daniel Hoey said.

Hoey says while in-person learning can be most beneficial for students, it is also important to be flexible.

“One of the key things throughout this entire experience, and this is true for every school district in the state, is flexibility,” Hoey said.

All the superintendents say they will be monitoring the situations in each of their districts to decide when they will return to in person learning.

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