Rapid City’s back-to-school COVID mitigation plan is in limbo. And school is less than two weeks away.
School officials made the plan last spring before a board election. Now the board’s new leader and new members say the plan needs changes.
The plan does not require masks or vaccinations for its students or staff. It does, however, have several other mitigation procedures.
One protocol requires unvaccinated students and staff to quarantine if they show symptoms or have been exposed to COVID-19. Students and staff who are vaccinated do not have to quarantine.
School board President Kate Thomas opposes quarantining. She says an executive order from Governor Kristi Noem prevents schools from requiring proof of an individual’s COVID-19 vaccination status.
“Here we have unvaccinated students and staff who are identified as close contact will be required to quarantine. Well, how do you know if you are not allowed to ask them? There should be no quarantine.”
The actual language in Noem’s executive order forbids local governments from requiring vaccine passports to receive a benefit, a license or do business with the government.
Thomas also says it’s not the job of school nurses to do contact tracing or provide COVID-19 testing.
Katy Urban is the communications manager for the Rapid City Area Schools. She says quarantining and contract tracing helped keep COVID cases to a minimum last school year, and administrators want to continue with those measures. She says the Rapid City school system wants to keep students and staff safe.
“These are really tough issues and ultimately it’s really tough to make everyone happy. So we just are really, really are trying to just put some common sense measures in place and hopefully that’s something that everyone can agree on.”
The school board will vote on the back-to-school plan at their next meeting on August 23rd. That’s one day before the start of school.