Spink County schools gear up for beginning of school year with COVID-19 precautions


Spink County schools gear up for beginning of school year with COVID-19 precautions

Staff report

  Spink County schools have been gearing up for the start of the school year amid COVID-19 precautions. Hitchcock-Tulare school, which began on Monday, August 17th, has established a three-tier system in dealing with COVID. The school is beginning in the first tier, the “white tier,” which does not mandate masks, but recommends them. The second tier (blue) would require masks in school buses and possibly hallways. According to Superintendent Jeff Clark, the final tier (red), would be used in the instance that a case of COVID would be found in the school district with school spread. In the case of spread, the Hitchcock-Tulare School District may go back to distance learning. Currently, among other things, the school district is practicing social distancing with desks set further apart, seating charts for classes and lunch, two recesses instead of one (so less children will be on the playground at a time), and regular disinfecting.

In the Northwestern School District, which begins school tomorrow (August 20th), a plan has been created through their Start Well Committee. In tier one, the school is asking parents to check student temperatures at home and use a symptom checker list before school each morning. Any student with a temperature above 100.4 will be asked to stay home. All students will be screened for a temperature at school as well, and be asked questions through a symptom checker. The school will be cleaned and disinfected daily. At school, masks and face shields will generally be optional, but not required. However, masks will be required on all transportation provided by the school and in the hallways during transition between classes (for grades 6-12). Masks will be provided by the school, but students may also bring their own masks.

  In the Doland School District, which starts school on August 24th, masks are also recommended but not required. The Doland School District is beginning on the first tier (green) of their individualized three-tiered plan as well. According to Doland school superintendent, Jim Hulscher, the school is following as many CDC guidelines as possible, such as social distancing and disinfecting.

“We are hoping and praying for a normal school year,” said Hulscher.

  In the Redfield School District, which begins classes on Wednesday, August 26th, the three-tier plan is almost identical to the Northwestern School District Start Well plan. Redfield School District is asking parents to check student temperatures at home and use a symptom checker list before school each morning. Any student with a temperature above 100.4 will be asked to stay home. All students will be screened for a temperature at school as well, and be asked questions through a symptom checker. All students who ride busses must wear a mask. In school, masks and face shields are recommended. When students are in small groups and unable to practice social distancing, masks are required. If COVID cases begin to spread, the school district will move on to tier two, which requires Personal Protective Equipment to be worn by all students and staff.

Generally, in all Spink County Schools, community members and visitors will not be allowed into classrooms, office or school during the school day. Community members or visitors who would like to enter would need to be approved by the school administrators and be screened.

As the school year begins, schedules are flexible and changes in COVID regulations may happen quickly. Keep up to date with school news through Spink County school websites: www.hitchcock-tuare.k12.sd.us; www.redfield.k12.sd.us; https://dolandschool.com; www.northwestern.k12.sd.us.

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