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RCAS closes all schools as 10% of staff now impacted by COVID-19
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RCAS closes all schools as 10% of staff now impacted by COVID-19

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August 10th School Board Meeting

Superintendent Lori Simon

Rapid City Area Schools announced in an email to families Monday night that the district would move all schools to Level 3 by Wednesday, which means closing the schools and moving to distance learning.

The district's COVID-19 team, including district administrators and health professionals, made the call after hearing the latest transmission data, "which showed that the surge in COVID-19 cases in our community continues to impact our students and staff."

More than 10% of the RCAS workforce is unable to work due to testing positive for COVID-19 or quarantining after COVID-19 exposure, the district said, noting student case numbers and quarantines also continue to climb.

The district hasn't updated its COVID-19 case data dashboard since Wednesday, but the data shows 94 students and 47 staff have an active case of COVID-19 while 105 staff and 676 students are in quarantine following exposure. The district has seen 501 total active and recovered cases.

Canyon Lake, Grandview and Meadowbrook elementary schools were already designated Level 3 along with South, Southwest and West middle schools and both Stevens and Central high schools.

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District buildings also don't have full coverage in nursing offices, "which is extremely concerning as we rely on our nurses and health assistants to not only tend to students with medical needs, but also help with contact tracing and other tasks to mitigate the spread of COVID-19," the district said.

All students will begin to learn remotely Wednesday and the district said that "staff who are able" will also work from home.

"Regardless of our learning model, we will continue to do our very best to meet the unique needs of each learner during this pandemic," Superintendent Lori Simon said. "This is not what we hoped for, but we are committed to making the best of our current reality."

Simon said she urges students to use caution during this time, including to wear masks in public, avoid crowds and stay six feet apart when possible.

"We want students and staff back in class," Simon said. "It is going to take all of us following the guidance set forth by the CDC to make that happen."

The district will provide take-home meals and send a follow-up communication to families with more information Tuesday, the email said. The COVID-19 team will also continue to meet through Thanksgiving break and update families after Thanksgiving about whether the district will reopen schools.

"While I know this information is disappointing to some, please know the concerns for the health and safety of our students, staff, and general community are at the center of all of our decisions during this pandemic," Simon said.

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