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Phebie Rossi

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Gov. Noem asks to delay social studies standards change
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SIOUX FALLS | South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem announced Monday that she has instructed the Department of Education to delay changes to the state's social studies standards up to one year to allow for more public input.

Noem's move comes as groups on both sides have criticized Noem's approach to the standards process, including a column from the National Review arguing "hard-left activists" have taken over the process.

Her move also follows recent calls for her resignation made by the South Dakota Education Equity Coalition during an education rally in Pierre last Monday, and recent venue changes to the first hearing on the standards planned for Aberdeen next month after the DOE reported it's seen nearly 600 public comments on the standards already.

“The Department of Education changed the working group’s recommendations to the social studies standards significantly, but it is clear to me that there needs to be more public input to bring greater balance and emphasis on our nation’s true and honest history," Noem said in a news release. "Following public feedback from several constituencies, it is clear there is more work to be done to get this right."

The DOE announced it was moving the first hearing to a larger venue a month later, likely to accommodate for more public comments, considering the nearly 600 submitted online and the more than 200 marchers who showed up in Pierre last week.

It's unclear when and where future hearings will be set up in the next year's time.

A review of the comments show the majority are in opposition to the proposed standards, in which the DOE removed more than a dozen explicit references to education on the Oceti Sakowin, initially included in an early draft proposed by a workgroup tasked with retooling the standards.

“We will be delaying further formal action on the draft social study standards to allow more opportunity for public input, increased legislative engagement, and additional voices to be heard in this discussion," Noem said in a statement. “Our focus remains the same: ensuring that South Dakota students learn a true and honest account of American and South Dakota history.”

Meanwhile, Candi Brings Plenty, a member of the SDEEC and indigenous justice organizer with the ACLU of South Dakota, said Noem knows "she's in for a battle."

"She has awakened a sleeping giant," Brings Plenty said. "We have finally been counted to a sufficient standard this past census and now she sees the numbers. We will vote her out."

Noem intends to ask the South Dakota legislature to pass legislation codifying Executive Order 2021-11, which she signed in late July and prohibits any curriculum requiring or encouraging students to take positions against one another on the basis of race, sex or the historical activity of members of a student's race or sex.

That executive order also prevents schools from "politicizing education" by prohibiting curriculum requiring students to protest or lobby during or after school.

Noem also plans to ban critical race theory and action civics as the basis for instruction in South Dakota schools. Education leaders have said CRT is mostly taught in higher education, but also isn't the basis for instruction in the state's six public universities.

Weekend packed with fall events
Weekend packed with fall events

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Four Black Hills residents among five deaths reported Monday
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The South Dakota Department of Health daily COVID-19 report included five deaths Monday. Pennington and Meade counties each reported two deaths and Douglas County had the other. There were two women and three men who died. Two were in their 60s and three were in their 70s.

Active cases in Pennington County declined for the first time since June 30. Active cases dropped to 43 on June 30 and rose every day until last week's record number of 2,192. That number dropped by 10 Monday with 86 new infections reported. The 96 recoveries led to a decrease in active cases to 2,182 in the county.

The state had a total of 446 new infections on Monday's report -- which includes data from noon on Thursday through noon on Friday. Tuesdays' reports include data from noon Friday through noon on Monday. Active cases in the state continued to rise. There are 133 more active cases included Monday, bringing the total to 7,927 across the state.

Hospitalizations decreased by 12 on Monday's report to 202. There are 63 people in ICU and 44 on ventilators. There were 87 people in Black Hills hospitals Friday at noon with 26 in ICU and 23 on ventilators. Monday morning, Monument Health in Rapid City reported a total of 102 COVID-19 patients, showing a significant increase over the weekend.

Rapid City Area Schools  has 30 teachers and 197 students with active COVID-19 illnesses. That is up one staff member from Friday, but there are 12 fewer sick students than there were Friday. Thirty-six staff members and 495 students are in quarantine. There have been 506 recoveries reported since the beginning of the school year.

Lawrence County reported 19 new infections Monday and Meade County had 17. Butte County added eight new cases and there were six in Oglala-Lakota County. Custer County had three positive positive tests and there were two in Fall River County.

Of the 446 new infections Monday, 102 were children under 19. Eighty-three more were in their 20s and 32 people over 70 tested positive.

Minnehaha County reported 100 new cases -- the first time in more than a month that a county other than Pennington County has had the most new infections. Lincoln County reported 28 new cases and there were 24 in Brookings County. Brown County reported 17 positive tests and there were 16 in Codington County. Yankton County recorded 13 new infections and there were 12 in Todd County. Union County had nine new cases and there were eight in Hamlin County. There were seven new infections in Clay County and six in Jackson County. 

Beadle, Charles Mix, Davison and McPherson counties each added five new infections and there were four in Brule, Dewey, Lake and Walworth counties. Deuel, Hughes and Hutchinson counties reported three positive tests and there were two in Aurora, Bon Homme, Corson, Faulk and Roberts counties. Twelve other counties reported one new case. 

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Rapid City medical cannabis rules to go into effect in October
  • Updated

Medical cannabis establishment rules in Rapid City will go into effect Oct. 2 after legal publication following a City Council vote on Monday.

The ordinance will limit the number of dispensaries to about 15 within city limits. The limit is one dispensary per 5,000 in the city's population.

The council approved the ordinance 8-1 with council member Bill Evans voting no. Council member John Roberts was absent from Monday's meeting.

Evans said he voted no on the ordinance because he believes the market should decide the number of dispensaries, or the city should have its own facility.

"We continuously from up here talk about the inadequate funding for the city budget," he said.

Council member Pat Jones cautioned the council and community members that the dispensaries approved could turn into recreational marijuana dispensaries.

"These 15 medical ones, whatever date that becomes, in a puff of smoke, will become recreational and make a difference and impact on our community," Jones said.

Businesses who apply for a medical cannabis and receive a license will have one year to get the business up and running, if good cause is shown to the finance director, for licenses issued in 2021 and 2022. Licenses will be $5,000. For the first year, the cost is broken down to $1,500 for the nonrefundable application fee and $3,500 for the license itself. Each year, the license renewal fee will be $5,000.

Applicants will be required to submit a separate applications for each type of establishment. There are four establishments possible in regards to medical cannabis, which includes dispensaries, testing, cultivation and manufacturing facilities. There is not a limit to the number of non-dispensary facilities able to be within city limits.

The council approved the first reading of the ordinance 7-1 with Evans voting no at the Sept. 7 meeting.

The council also approved the first reading of the zoning ordinance 9-0 for all medical cannabis establishments. The Planning Commission previously sent the ordinance to council with a 9-0 vote.

All facilities would need to be at least 1,000 feet away from public or private schools. Cultivation and manufacturing facilities wouldn't be able to be within 500 feet of a child care center, church, public park or property zoned as residential. Dispensaries would be able to operate within 500 feet of a child care center, church, public park or property zoned as residential if it was granted a conditional use permit.

Medical cannabis zoning chart

All facilities would need to be in enclosed structures, submit an operational plan that details compliance with laws, administrative rules and ordinances; submit a waste management plan, an odor plan; a survey stamped by a professional surveyor; and registration with the state Department of Health.

The second reading for the zoning ordinance will be at the first October council meeting.