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Back-to-School: Dakota Valley School District prepares for students to return to class

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NORTH SIOUX CITY, S.D. (KTIV) -- Schools around Siouxland each approach back to school differently this year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Dakota Valley School District begins classes on Monday.

Administrators with the district say a vast majority of Dakota Valley students will be learning in person. They say they have some students who have chosen full-time distance learning from home. Those who have chosen to learn from home are committed to it for the first semester.

Students who will learn in person will see some changes made throughout the building for their safety.

After a long summer of planning and preparing, the Dakota Valley School District is ready to get back to work, with precautions.

"I'm excited to see our kids," said Dr. Jerry Rasmussen, Superintendent of Dakota Valley Schools.

The 2020-2021 school year is looking different for every school in Siouxland because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dr. Jerry Rasmussen, Superintendent of the Dakota Valley School District, says the changes being made are important to help get kids back to school and keep them safe at the same time.

"Just different ways we walk throughout the halls, sitting on one side of lunch tables, assigned seats on busses. Just many many things to try and keep school functioning. Have that social aspect of school that's so important," said Dr. Rasmussen.

Dr. Rasmussen adds masks will be mandatory throughout the schools, with some medical and age exceptions.

"We're really doing that, masks and so many things are, how can we help others? These are things were doing for other people. It is at times an inconvenience, and we understand that. But we also feel it's just the right thing to do to try and help each other," said Dr. Rasmussen.

He says they've been planning the school year since May.

"There's anxiety I think among everyone. We're just not sure what it looks like because we haven't done this before, with education in a pandemic. And I don't say that lightly. We'll know a little more each week and as months go on. And I guess if we're overly cautious maybe that's a better thing than to find out we should have been more cautious," said Dr. Rasmussen.

Dr. Rasmussen adds while the process has been a long one, everybody's ready to see their students and get back to school.

Dr. Rasmussen says if a student does get diagnosed with COVID-19, procedures like assigned seats at lunch and on busses, will help with contact tracing.

He says the South Dakota Department of Health will determine who will have to be isolated and tested if a student tests positive.

Dr. Rasmussen adds, the Department of Health will also consult with districts if they feel an outbreak of COVID-19 is starting to happen within their school.

"South Dakota Department of Health has told us repeatedly that they will walk every school through those cases. And so, the South Dakota Department of Health will contact us, and then will work through the school with doing contact tracing as to who were close contact that the student was around," said Dr. Rasmussen.

Dr. Rasmussen says while they hope it's not needed, if necessary, the district can go to full distance learning, in case of an outbreak.

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Emily Schrad

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