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Mitchell Superintendent Explains Rationale Behind Mask Mandate

Adults and students protest Mitchell High School's masking requirement.

The school superintendent in Mitchell says the number of protesters is declining outside the high school as students adjust to a new mask requirement. 

Mitchell is one of the first South Dakota districts to require masks this school year. The school board adopted the policy after starting the year without a mask requirement. 

More than a hundred people protested the policy on its first day in effect earlier this week. Superintendent Joe Graves says school officials took lunches outside to the protesters.  

“We totally respect their right to protest. We strongly believe that children have constitutional rights.” 

Graves says the district is not trying to squash those rights.  

“We have a board that is very committed to the health of the kids, and wants to make sure that they stay healthy. And they also want to make very sure that we stay in school. Being in school is just so important for kids. And wearing masks, it is their belief, and mine as well, will give us the best shot of staying in school.” 

State health officials report 433 cases of COVID-19 so far this school year in K-12 schools. 

Seth supervises SDPB's beat reporters and newscast team. He works at SDPB's Black Hills Studio in Rapid City.