SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — The horrific shooting of students and teachers in Uvalde, Texas was a topic of conversation at gathering places all over KELOLAND, including Josiah’s Coffee House and Bakery

“I think the big thing is just keeping it kind of in the news making sure something does come out of it, having it be a big event, just passing through and then people forget about it,” said Tristian Johnson of Sioux Falls.

“I believe that every school should have an armed guard the money left over from COVID and or sent to Ukraine and the money we spent at the border should be reallocated and to protect every one of the U.S. Citizens first,” said Mike Foister of Sioux Falls.

“I’m not saying that everyone’s guns need to be taken away or anything like that but we need to regulate the people who are getting access to these when and how and another thing too. I think politicians need to stop praying for things to get better and start making laws taking action and actually doing something about that,” said Caryn Brakke of Pierre.

Educators are also talking.

Dr. Wade Pogany the Executive Director of the Associated School Boards of South Dakota says in part…

“At a time when students and parents should be celebrating the end of the school year, the good folks in Texas are suffering,” Pogany said.

Ryan Rolfs the Executive Director of the South Dakota Education Association also sent a statement.

“Too many parents have dropped their children off at school only to never see them again. This must stop and it’s time that leaders at all levels of government do something to end the madness. Our students’ lives depend on it,” Rolfs said.

The Sioux Falls School District’s Risk manager sent a letter to teachers reminding them to prepare and plan for an emergency.

We obtained a copy that reads in part, “Safety and Security is only as effective as its weakest link. Be vigilant! Make sure you aren’t the weakest link!”

Sioux Falls School Superintendent Jane Stavem also released a statement, saying school counselors are available to process the sad news from Texas.

Governor Kristi Noem has ordered that flags be flown at half-staff on Saturday for the victims of the school shooting.

Below are the full statements from Education Officials

Statement from Dr. Jane Stavem, Superintendent:

As we come to the end of the 2021-22 school year today, there is a strange mix of celebration and deep sadness. 

The Sioux Falls School District is heartbroken for the community of Uvalde, TX after another act of violence was carried out in the classrooms and hallways of a school. This senseless tragedy rocks our community and country to the core, and our hearts hurt are with all who are hurting.

The children and the adults who enter our schools, and any schools, deserve to learn and grow in a positive and safe environment. More than a decade ago, the Sioux Falls School District committed to increased safety protocols that are in place today, and we continually build on those protocols to refine and improve our practices.

Training for staff members, partnerships with the Sioux Falls Police Department, and counseling services from many non-profit organizations for students and families are valuable components of our Safe & Secure Schools Program.  Every day, our staff works to be diligent in following our protocols to prevent dangerous situations and promote safe practices.

Unfortunately, the events that continue to unfold in many places serve as stark reminders that even with vigilance and our best efforts, evil is present and bad things can happen. That is the harsh reality that continues to play out in many settings, including schools. 

As we end the school year today, our school counselors have been available to process the sad news from Texas with any child or staff member who expressed a need to talk. Further, we’ve posted additional resources on our website:https://www.sf.k12.sd.us/page/counseling-services if you need support for your child or family in the days to come. 

Collectively, we must continue working to do everything possible to prevent future tragedies, including reporting concerns, helping our children connect to positive activities, supporting programs that give children a place to belong, and accessing supports available that promote physical, emotional, and mental well-being. 

Thank you for your partnership throughout this school year and for all the ways you support the children in our community. 

Our children deserve nothing less, and we are grateful.

Dr. Jane Stavem, Superintendent

Statement from Dr. Wade Pagony, executive director of the Associated School Boards of South Dakota:

“At a time when students and parents should be celebrating the end of the school year, the good folks in Texas are suffering.  When we lose children and teachers to tragedies like this, everyone’s heartbreaks.  ASBSD sends our condolences to the parents, and community of Uvalde”.

Dr. Wade Pagony, executive director of the Associated School Boards of South Dakota

Statement from Ryan Rolfs, SDEA:

“No words or statements will bring back the children and teachers of Uvalde.  As educators, we are heartbroken by this tragic news, but we are no longer shocked by such events. We grieve for the victims’ family es and the community in which they lived. 

Unfortunately, educators have stopped asking the question: when will this end and now ask where will this happen next?  Will it be my school, my classroom, or my students?  Our students should not have to live in fear.  Active shooter drills should not have to be a part of their educational experience, but it is the reality we live in.  Too many parents have dropped their children off at school only to never see them again.  This must stop and it’s time that leaders at all levels of government do something to end the madness.  Our students’ lives depend on it.”

Ryan Rolfs, Executive Director South Dakota Education Association