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Noem recommends K-12 school closure until May 1
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Noem recommends K-12 school closure until May 1

Gov. Kristi Noem recommended K-12 schools remain closed until May 1 in a press conference Tuesday morning.

Noem said she put forward recommendations to school administrators that students should stay out of their school buildings until May, which should give the state time to flatten the curve.

Flattening the curve refers to the number of cases seen in the state. A high curve means the virus is spreading quickly and overwhelming health care systems.

With practices like social distancing, common sense hygiene, and limiting groups to 10 or fewer people, South Dakota can achieve a low curve, which would mean the infection rate is much slower, there are less infected people at a given time, and that hospitals and clinics have the time and resources needed to take care of patients.

“It also gives (school districts) the consistency at the district level on how they will teach these children at home or at a distance,” Noem said, noting that teachers across the state have converted to either online learning or delivering instructional packets to students.

Noem also said that any federal standardized testing requirements have been waived for K-12 students.

For students who rely on school for meals every day, Noem said some school districts and nonprofits in the state have been innovative in how they get meals to their students.

“From delivering sack meals to hot meals, some districts are doing more than 5,000 meals a day,” Noem said.

Noem said she would reevaluate her current plan — recommending school closure until May 1 — throughout the next several weeks. She also said we won’t see the peak infection rate in South Dakota for another eight weeks.

“We obviously believe that we will still be dealing with the virus by that time, but we do not know if we'll have therapeutics available to us, or if there will be more information at that time, really what the situation will be,” Noem said. “I think all of us can honestly say that even a week ago, we were in a very different situation than we are today.”

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