HOT SPRINGS, S.D. — Students and staff at Hot Springs Schools are once again gracing the hallways for another school year.
With a Tier system in place, they began in Tier 2 which includes social distancing and mask zones. Tier 3 splits the student body in half with alternating days. Tier 4 turns to only online learning.
“So we are still sitting at 23 cases, our community spread is minimal, so we are planning on continuing that and again, being flexible and responding to our local conditions,” said Dennis Fischer, the Superintendent of Hot Springs Schools.
Students received a custom-made mask, complete with the school logo. Desk and table barriers are also set up in some classrooms. When social distancing cannot be enforced, mask zones are in place, like in the hallways and school buses.
“Even with the masks and the visors that some of our teachers chose to wear, once again, when you walk through our school you’re really seeing education happening,” Fischer said.
They are following the American Academics of Pediatricians guidelines and have the floor space to spread out desks three to four feet apart.
Fischer says they want to focus on students returning to a sense of balance and normalcy in their lives.
“Taking a look, not at COVID only, but also on some of those other needs that our students have and certainly mental health and the normalcy factor where our students and anxiety that our students experience when they are home and have been home since last spring,” Fischer said.
The district is emphasizing the importance of academic progress.
“For us, we are going to try and work our way through this pandemic and try to keep our kids as safe as possible, be flexible and constantly learn and try to adjust and make sure that academics takes place,” Fischer said.
The district will continue to monitor the level of community spread in Fall River County to make decisions as needed.
About 10% of the school population is taking up the online component and another 10% is choosing another option, like homeschooling.
The district has 760 students and over 100 staff members within the three school buildings. They have used CARES Act assistance to purchase sanitation supplies.