BOX ELDER, S.D. — Douglas schools delayed the start of their school year by a week this year, because of the amount of staff that were quarantined or isolated due to out-of-district exposures- they didn’t have the crew. Tuesday was their first day of classes.
Douglas School District launched into the school year in Phase 1, which may change depending on the number of COVID-19 cases in Pennington County and cases within the district.
They are doing their best to keep the students and staff safe, with sanitation efforts, social distancing when they can, desk barriers in some classrooms and mask use. They are hoping to keep the face-to-face learning.
“Health officials tell us masks will help us do that and I think if we all pull together and do common good, I think we are going to stay open,” said Alan Kerr, the Superintendent of the Douglas School District.
Teachers are staying positive and adapting where they must.
Cherrie Martenson, Biology Teacher at Douglas High School, says,
“I like to greet my students with a smile and put out a lot of positive energy and it’s really hard for me to feel like I’m portraying that welcomeness, but also for them as I look out in the classroom and you only see their eyes; it is kind of different,” said Cherrie Martensen, a Biology Teacher at Douglas High School.
Some teachers had to get right into the nuts and bolts of seating charts and procedures on the first day rather than the typical ice breakers.
“I thought it felt pretty normal, and then when the first bell rang,” said Amy Erlandson, a Social Studies Teacher at Douglas High School. “It was a little bit more unconventional versus before because I had to change a lot of my procedures on what I normally do the first day of school.”
The educators and students alike — looking forward to the school year and getting back to some sort of normalcy.
“The general overall feel I think here at Douglas is — Let’s go,” Erlandson says.
“I’m just excited everybody is here and we are taken every precaution that we can,” Kerr added.
The High School also has an outdoor learning space opportunity to help with social distancing efforts.
Snow days may be a thing of the past, now students can do distance learning at home.
Kerr says out of the approximate 2,800 students in the Douglas School District, about 500 began class online.
Martenson says she hopes to remain in-person teaching for the year, but feels better prepared for successful online learning with training over the summer.
“When you are in a classroom in person, you can see that confusion, you can see who is working, you can see who is not and it just allows for better understanding,” Martenson said.
The school is also doing temperature checks for anyone entering the school.