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I hope this update finds you healthy and safe at home!  I worry that by press time, some of what I type will be irrelevant or substantially different. Unpredictable is an understatement, and although a tremendous amount of thought and concern goes into every decision, I am simply up against an opponent that is volatile, unprecedented and deadly.

As I type this article, I am reminded that today is supposed to be DRHS prom. It’s easy to assume this is a small thing, and our students will adjust accordingly. I know them, and they will, but I feel awful every time I take something away from them. Tonight is supposed to be about dressing up, dancing, and making memories with friends. For now, I’ve also taken away the state basketball tournament and possibly an entire spring activity and performance season. Had I known the final day of the state wrestling tournament was possibly my last chance this year to look down and support Quarrier student-athletes, I would have stayed a little longer and taken it all in.  

As our community adjusts to a new normal, DRPS teachers and the majority of staff will continue working from home. A limited number of individuals will report to work, although this may continuously decrease in the coming weeks.  We have prioritized specific duties to implement community service through our Grab & Go lunch sites, meal delivery, and Emergency Haven. As you may have seen, we have filed for waivers, allowing us to feed any child 0-18 at our two distribution sites. Weekly signups are posted every Sunday and I appreciate a headcount for planning purposes.   

South Dakota’s “Veto Day” provided SB188 and 189. These bills waive requirements surrounding assessment and instructional minutes. What these bills don’t do, is provide guidance surrounding credits, graduation requirements, or grades. The Department of Education reinforced that schools are still expected to keep students engaged in the educational process.  A state workgroup is being formed to provide guidance surrounding the specific items in flux, therefore we will continue to do the best job we can at educating students in what I now call “emergency remote instruction”. I use this term because although my staff is tirelessly implementing virtual education opportunities, they haven’t been intentionally trained or provided appropriate planning time for this.  Parents too have been thrown into the roles of instructor and tutor which is adding another layer to an already stressful time. I have never been prouder of this team of teachers and staff.  They continue to surprise me every day with their courageous attempts to think outside the box.

At present time, school will resume May 4, however, I will continue to seek and take guidance from education, health, and governmental agencies.  As mentioned earlier, this situation is rapidly changing and may escalate quickly within our community.  I will do my best to keep stakeholders up to date with the most recent decisions and recommendations related to the Dell Rapids School District. I encourage you to visit our Website and Facebook page often.  These provide frequent updates and I also visit weekly with Matt Larson at Big Sioux Media. 

Please continue to support our local businesses.  These individuals are always supportive of my students, and our sponsorship requests.  They need us now more than ever and I for one am taking advantage of the unique ways they have continued to serve our community. Stay safe and I look forward to better days ahead!

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