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Huron, Lemmon and Beresford Superintendents Talk COVID-19 Response

School districts around the state are responding to COVID-19 cases among staff and students.

Huron Superintendent Terry Nebelsick says a couple students tested positive for COVID before the school year began. Because Huron was an early hot spot, he says information moves quickly from the city’s testing center to the school administration.

“When we have the information, we move immediately with that information working with the operations task force so that by the time the Department of Health calls within the next 24-48 hours, we’ve been able to mitigate without that downtime," he explains.

It’s different in Lemmon, where there have been few cases so far.

“This week was a tough week for us," says Lemmon Superintendent Steve Bucks. He says four staff members have tested positive, mostly in the elementary school. The district decided to close that building until September 8th. That’s in line with the 14-day timeframe it takes most people to show symptoms if they’ve been exposed.

“The desire would be to when we start back on the 8th that we would have given that illness time to end for those positive people," Bucks explains.

In Beresford, COVID cases are resulting in a staffing shortage. Superintendent Brian Field says four staff members have tested positive and another 8 are in quarantine. The district is low on substitutes, but Field says the school board is considering a solution:

“Possibly designate all school employees as critical personnel under the critical infrastructure provisions of federal covid-19 guidelines," says Field. "Which would essentially allow our personnel who’ve been exposed to COVID-19 continue to work as long as they’re asymptomatic and test negative.”

He says the district can’t afford to keep healthy teachers home.

All three superintendents say the Department of Health is contacting people who may have been exposed to positive cases within the district. The Department releases statewide case numbers in schools on a weekly basis.

Jackie is based out of SDPB's Sioux Falls Studio.