(Updated From Original Online Version)
COVID-19 cases in South Dakota schools more than doubled from last week to this week, while the Pierre School District has its first student case.
For the week of Aug. 30-Sept. 5, the South Dakota Department of Health reported 452 total cases within the state’s K-12 schools. This includes 297 infected students and 155 infected staff members, which includes teachers, secretaries, maintenance workers, etc.
There is at least one COVID-19 case in 187 schools throughout the state, with 144 having one or two infections — and 43 with three or more.
The previous week, Aug. 23-29, state health officials reported 195 total COVID infections within South Dakota schools.
As of Saturday, Pierre School District had its first positive student case, according to Superintendent Kelly Glodt. Positive case numbers among staff and students as well as the community spread status will be posted on its website, https://pierre.k12.sd.us/, and updated each Monday. Individual schools will not be identified.
“We work with the Department of Health to identify any potential close contacts and notify parents of steps that need to be taken, depending on the situation,” Glodt told the Capital Journal on Tuesday.
As of Wednesday, Glodt said there had been no other reported cases in the school district and that schools are following the protocol.
“I want to thank the entire community for limiting their exposure. It is pretty amazing to me that active cases in Hughes County are 16 today in comparison to any other larger communities in the state. Being in the Moderate community spread status is admirable and [the] community should be proud of this and maintain vigilance to maintain that level rather than getting back to substantial community spread,” Glodt said Wednesday.
South Dakota colleges, universities, and technical schools, meanwhile, reported 842 cases for the week of Aug, 30 to Sept. 5., with 806 students and 36 staff infected. All 15 higher education institutions reported three or more cases, and some campuses had additional cases.
“Right now, we’re working with our university partners and making sure that we can do what we can around helping to support testing, helping and making sure individuals are aware that individual actions can be taken to decrease the risk of COVID-19, and really decrease that overall risk of transmission,” state Epidemiologist Dr. Joshua Clayton said during a Tuesday news conference.
The state health department urged that students and staff continue to take precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19, such as mask wearing, social distancing, and frequent hand washing.
Pierre School District’s back to school plan for the 2020-21 school year says that parents should perform home health screenings and that children should not attend school if they are symptomatic, and individuals that test positive for COVID-19 or are in close contact with an active infection are required to be absent from school. Students are still expected to complete all assignments regardless of attendance.
Students are strongly encouraged to wear masks and staff are provided with face shields that they are required to wear when in close proximity to students for an extended period of time. Social distancing of at least six feet is expected and student drop off and pick up, mealtimes, and instructional spaces have been modified to accommodate distanced learning.
The full back to school plan and a student symptom home screening checklist are on the Pierre School District’s homepage, https://pierre.k12.sd.us/.