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No distance learning, mask mandates this year for Rapid City public schools
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No distance learning, mask mandates this year for Rapid City public schools

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Rapid City Area Schools won’t offer a large-scale distance learning program nor will it implement a mask mandate during the 2021-22 school year.

The District sent its revised COVID-19 protocols to students’ families Monday morning in preparation for the upcoming school year. RCAS asked families to review its COVID-19 mitigation practices that will be followed during the school year and highlighted the most important aspects in a district-wide email.

While the school year, which begins Aug. 24, won’t start with a mask mandate, the plan says Superintendent Lori Simon and the District’s health team will continually monitor COVID-19 data and will “highly recommend” mask wearing if case volumes quickly increase. Simon could make a recommendation to the Board of Education to implement a temporary mask mandate.

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Also unlike last year, RCAS will not offer a large-scale distance learning program although a smaller virtual learning pilot program will go forward as planned. The District does not have enough staff available to continue the distance learning program. All of the virtual learning slots at every level — elementary, middle and high school — have been filled, according to community relations manager Katy Urban.

RCAS will continue to track COVID-19 cases in schools and will post case numbers on its website weekly. The District will continue to notify staff and families when there is a positive case in a student’s building.

The District asked families to continue screening students for symptoms of COVID-19 before coming to school. RCAS nurses will continue contact tracing in schools and will continue to offer testing to staff and students. A limited amount of the state’s free take-home COVID tests will also be available.

Unvaccinated students and staff who are identified as close contacts will be required to quarantine for a minimum of seven days. If they receive a negative test on the fifth, sixth or seventh day of their quarantine period, they can return to school on the eighth day.

For more information on the District’s back to school COVID-19 plan, read the plan on the RCAS website.

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