RAPID CITY, S.D. — The Rapid City Area Schools Board of Education met Tuesday night to discuss revisions to COVID-19-related policies in the district.
Emotions ran deep on both sides as concerned parents, medical workers, teachers, and community members came out to voice their opinions.
“No one loves children more than their parents…no one is more concerned about the children than the children’s parents.”
“The reality is my daughter is being exposed on a regular basis.”
“Take a big breath…it’s so good to breathe…the essence of life…thank you, board, for not muzzling my child.”
“The absolute lack of care and blatant disregard for others from this board is appalling…many of you consider yourself religious, but last time I checked with any religion, you’re supposed to care about others.”
Both groups took to the sidewalk before the meeting started, bringing signs, chanting and flag-waving.
Once the meeting started, speakers were interrupted at times by cheering or booing – with some even walking out or being asked to leave due to their behavior.
“I’m not responsible for your families health.” That statement met with some cheering, some booing, and others walking out.
Superintendent Dr. Lori Simon saying in her report that COVID numbers for the first ten days of school in 2021 are higher than the first ten days of school in 2020.
“Since the start of school – our COVID numbers – compared to last year – have continued to escalate quickly,” Dr. Simon said.
Shortly after, a resolution favoring a two-week mask mandate failed five-to-two, with board members Amy Policky and Clay Colombe the only supporters.
Board members approved a revision to the RCAS Back to School Plan, which will end COVID notification emails to parents.
Instead, the RCAS COVID Dashboard will provide daily percentages of sick staff and students – as opposed to exact numbers or number of new cases.
The meeting lasted for nearly five hours.
Several attendees who provided their public comment after the board addressed their agenda said that public comment provided after items were voted on was essentially worthless.
“I guess I don’t have anything else to say since everything was already voted on.”
“I’m not exactly sure the point of deferring this public comment portion when you’ve already taken action.”
The board also considered eliminating some policies altogether, saying the goal is to strengthen existing policies by deleting policies that contradict older ones.