Reopening the school doors at DRPS is a critical component of our community's “return to normal” activities. Spring of 2020 was nothing short of a whirlwind, and I can’t thank our school community enough for the outpouring of support, patience, and confidence they offered during an unprecedented time.
An even bigger task emerges as we prepare for the 2020-2021 school year. I anticipate that SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, will continue to circulate. Further, I cannot ensure our mitigation strategies will completely alleviate the risk for staff and students. I’ve created a Return to Learn SAFE team that has already put hours of work into our reentry plan. With a virus such as Covid-19, preparation alone can’t eliminate the unpredictable complications that can arise. We will, however, be prepared to educate students regardless of their location.
The committee is preparing protocol guidelines for three categories, knowing our district, or individual school could instantly change as the result of infection rates. As with most schools, preparation will revolve around the following scenarios:
- On-site learning- instruction with standard precautions and awareness of health guidelines. This design will also include the probability that parallel instruction is necessary due to some students needing to be educated virtually.
- Hybrid model -instruction with rigid social distancing and capacity limitations. This scenario will include scheduled rotations to ensure a specified capacity (ex: 50%) of students in the building at one time.
- Remote learning- instruction completed entirely through virtual platforms.
At this time, DRPS intends to begin school with on-site learning, knowing that some of our medically fragile students may need to receive parallel instruction through virtual means. For this reason, the Return to Learn committee will establish guiding protocols under each category and we will communicate details of our on-site learning plan by late July.
Although it’s impossible to plan for everything the school year could bring, the guiding priorities of the Return to Learn committee include:
- Staff members will be provided with appropriate tools and support to be resilient for the year ahead.
- Parents will be provided adequate information to determine the safest learning environment for their child. We are working diligently to create an on-site learning environment that supports academic and emotional growth while being realistic to the fact that we cannot always promise social distancing.
- Students will be taken care of emotionally, physically, and academically regardless of their learning plan.
We are strongly advocating for a wellness partnership with our families in preventing the spread of COVID-19 in our schools and community. It is our belief that parents and schools each doing their part will get us through these uncertain times with less illness and anxiety. If we work together, we feel our efforts will go a long way in protecting all of us.
Summer Schultz, Superintendent
Dell Rapids Public School District #49-3