The Sioux Falls School District has released details for what it’s calling the Return to Learn plan. The 123-page working document has been boiled down to a 20-page handbook for parents ahead of the coming school year.
The parent handbook includes the expectation that students wear face masks on school property, except in gym class. It also has a check list of COVID-19 symptoms. Parents are to run through the checklist with their child every day before school and keep the child home if even one symptom is present.
On SDPB’s In the Moment program, Sioux Falls Superintendent Jane Stavem says there are many details to consider for a safe return to school—from the morning bus ride to handling library books.
“That document is out there so people can begin to understand the level of detail, and some of that changes as we move forward too and know more and get different guidance," Stavem explains. "And then what we’ve tried to do is kinda break that into manageable pieces. We will continue to do this with a parent handbook. We’re working on a staff handbook that says, what are the things people want to know the most and here’s an easier way to digest that.”
Parents must decide if they’ll enroll their child in the Sioux Falls Virtual Academy by August 7th. If a student goes to school in-person, there are three ways that might turn out. Superintendent Stavem says the school year will start face-to-face with certain safety adjustments.
“Then if we need to reduce the number of people on site, we refer to that as a hybrid where maybe we have half of our students come and the next day we do the other half. And we have some type of schedule that reduces the number of students on site," says Stavem. "That means then some students will not be there, and parents need to have a plan for where your student would be if they’re not in school.”
If necessary, schools may temporarily move to a completely virtual model. The district plans to consult local public health experts and the state Department of Health, but it’s not clear what would prompt individual schools to move from one method of instruction to another.
The full Return to Learn plan and the parent handbook are available through the COVID-19 Resource Center link on the school district’s website.