The Mitchell Board of Education on Monday approved a plan for holding extra curricular activities during the 2020-21 school year, including guidelines that would restrict spectators at events based on a multi-tier system recommended by the South Dakota High School Activities Association.

Following a question and answer session, the board approved a plan presented by Cory Aadland, activities director for the Mitchell School District. He said he felt the guidelines would provide a protection factor for students and community members.

“I feel a lot better than I did a few weeks ago. (The recommendations from the SDHSAA) are all very feasible. Very doable,” Aadland said.

The plan outlines protocols for athletic and music activities and events.

For extracurricular events, performances and competitions, the following screening protocols will be implemented:

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  • For events/practices held before, during, or after the school day, screening protocols, as enumerated in Appendix B of the SDHSAA Sports/Activities Task Force Recommendations, shall be implemented by school personnel before the start of such events.

  • Participants identified through screening protocols as not eligible to participate in events or practices before the school day shall also be excluded from attending school that same day.

The board also approved guidelines for spectators at events in Mitchell.

  • All spectators shall be required to wear masks at Mitchell home events. At away events, the regulations of the away district shall apply.

  • To the extent spectators are permitted, regulation of such will be identical for home and visiting fans.

  • A tier system described by the SDHSAA will be implemented. In Tier 2, the MHS student body will be permitted to attend. Additionally, each participant will be issued four tickets to be used for fans of their choosing. In Tier 3, the MHS students will be permitted to attend. Beyond this, only parents/step parents/guardians of participants will be allowed to attend. Tier decisions will be made by the activities director in conversation with the superintendent three days before each event in order to allow for logistics. Changes may be made to the tier system up to the point of spectators entering the facility for the event.

  • Once a contest has concluded, event officials will take steps to quickly remove participants from the venue and expedite, within reason, the departure of all fans from the area. After-contest mingling will be actively discouraged.

Guidelines on student transportation state that under normal circumstances, participants are required to ride on school-provided transportation to events, with occasional exceptions. During the pandemic, all requests from parents for students to ride with parents to events will be approved. Requests to ride with people other than parents, unless exigent circumstances occur, shall not be approved.

Matt Christiansen, a member of the board, asked if there were specific conditions that would trigger the cancellation of a season or particular activity.

“What system do we have to put brakes on if we have an outbreak?” Christiansen asked.

Aadland said the district can choose at any time to discontinue any activity, but any recommendation from the state activities association would likely be heeded.

“I would think the SDHSAA would step in if we have to shut it down. We can stop anytime and make our own decisions. We could do that on our own at any time,” Aadland said.

The music program requirements outline safety measures for elementary, middle school and high school level students. Some of those measures include the postponement of elementary concerts until the second semester, the required sanitization of musical instruments between classes and the requirement of bell covers for instruments in fifth grade band.

Deb Olson, president of the board of education, said they would continue to monitor the situation and adjust protocols as the situation calls for it.

Mask opposition continues

The board again heard comments from the public for nearly an hour on the subject of mandatory masks, with every comment against the district mandate to require masks for everyone on district property until the end of the pandemic.

Sonja VanErdewyk, who had addressed the board at its previous meeting, again implored the board to reconsider requiring masks, as opposed to it being a recommendation. She said leaving the choice of the type of mask up to the students and parents is not an effective way to discourage the spread of COVID-19. Very specific types of masks are needed to be effective, she said.

“If we think whatever covering people are going to come into the school with is going to protect us, we’re fooling ourselves,” VanErdewyk said. “Viruses can get through that.”

Others at the meeting expressed concern about students needing to use masks, especially for those who may suffer from other medical conditions. That included Debbie Emme, a district parent who did not wear a mask to the meeting.

“As you notice, I’m not wearing a mask. Anyone that should not wear a mask is anyone who has trouble breathing, and I have a prescription inhaler. But here it goes, who will be and not be exempt from mask wearing? Who will make that determination?” Emme asked.

She said there are no studies that prove mask use is effective.

“As professional teachers and educators, you must make every reasonable order to protect the students. There are no studies that prove that all-day mask-wearing is not going to be harmful to our children,” Emme said. “Prove to us there is a public health risk. You guys are actually going against the Fifth Amendment of the United States. Our governor has since declared that schools should be open without mandating masks.”

The board approved the continuing use of the school reopening plans, including the mask requirement.


The board also approved the following personnel moves at the Aug. 10 meeting:

  • The new certified hires of Kylee Auch, 0.5 Title I at L.B. Williams Elementary, $22,000, effective for the 2020-21 school year; Robert Snoozy, custodian at Gertie Belle Rogers Elementary, $13.10, effective Aug. 24 and Jesse Lokken, custodial at Mitchell High School, $13.10, effective Aug. 11.

  • The new classified hires of Noel Ahlers, administrative assistant, $13, effective Aug. 4; Bethan Amundson, volunteer assistant marching band, $1, effective 2020-21 school year; Tierra Nightpipe, paraeducator at Mitchell High School, $11.30, effective Aug. 19; Laura Starr, special education paraeducator, Longfellow Elementary, effective Aug. 4; Taramee Paulson, special education paraeducator at L.B. Williams Elementary, effective Aug. 19; Angela Putnam, paraeducator at the PACT Program, $12, effective Aug. 17; Lynne Winnie, special education paraeducator at Gertie Belle Rogers Elementary, $11.26, effective Aug. 19; Rowan Byrd, paraeducator at L.B. Williams Elementary, $11.26, effective Aug. 12; Beth Schneider, middle school robotics advisor, $1, effective 2020-21 school year and Kayla Honbach, general food service worker, $12.75, effective Aug. 13.

  • The transfer of Lisa Vermeulen, special education paraeducator at Gertie Belle Rogers Elementary to computer aide at Gertie Belle Rogers Elementary, effective 2020-21 school year.

  • The sixth-class assignments of Nikki Rodas, 2(1/semester); Stephanie Tyler, 2(1/semester); Becky Anderson, 2(1/semester) and Kristina Starr, 2(1/semester). All assignments are effective for the 2020-21 school year.

  • The resignations of Destiny Wolbrink, computer aide at Gertie Belle Rogers Elementary, effective 2020-21 school year; Dawn Bult, paraeducator at L.B. Williams Elementary, effective 2020-21 school year and Beth Schmidt, paraeducator at L.B. Williams Elementary, effective July 16.

  • The Mitchell Technical College wage adjustment of Christopher Hass, $13.50 to $14.50, effective July 1.

  • The Mitchell Technical College hires of Janet Nicolas, fall 2020 BUS101 online and BUS120 online, $4,500/semester; Jenna Vavra, fall 2020 AMI210, $3,000; Sarah Delany, 2020-21 MTC SLPA adjunct, $3000/semester; Kari Gosmire, 2020-21 MTC SLPA adjunct, $3,000/semester and Angie Hanson, 2020-21 MTC SLPA adjunct, $3000/semester. All hires are effective from Aug. 24.

Other business

Also at the meeting, the board:

  • Approved the revision of Mitchell Technical College board policy 991, graduation requirements on first reading.

  • Approved a bid for the MTC used digger derrick truck. MTC determined that its Powerline Program was in need of a digger derrick truck and that securing a used truck would both meet its needs and conform to its budgetary resources. One bid for $92,160 from Custom Truck One Source. Funds for the purchase will come from both one-time state equipment dollars and Perkins funds.

  • Approved two bids for the MTC house materials. Each year, the district lets bids for materials needed for the ADBC housing construction. Two bids were opened Aug. 5, with a bid for site house 107 coming in at $53,293.80 with a $8,100 addendum and site house 108 coming in at $58,269.04. Both bids were from Builders FirstSource of Mitchell. The board approved both bids but without the addendum on site house 107.

  • Purchased a lot for the 2020-21 MTC site house. The lot site is Lot Two (2) in Tract H, Wild Oak Golf Club Addition to the City of Mitchell, Davison County, South Dakota. The district will make the purchase from Firesteel Links LLC for $36,941. That includes the lot price of $36,500 pulse expenses of $441. The lot price is the same as paid for the 2019-20 lot house.

  • Appoint members of the board to school board committees for the 2020-21 school year.

  • Approved the high school handbook for the 2020-21 school year.

  • Approved the tentative agreement with the Mitchell Education Association for the 2020-23 master agreement.

  • Approved compensation increases for K-12 administrators for the 2020-21 school year. Based on 2% compensation increase guidelines, the average increase would amount to $1,550 per administrator per FTE. That would equate to $1,550 for administrators Cory Aadland, Joe Childs, Steve Culhane, Chris Gubbrud, Lisa Heckenlaible, Levi Hohn, Craig Mock, Becky Roth, John Sieverding and Shane Thill and $1,085 for Sherri Becker at 0.7 FTE.

  • Hold a public hearing on a waiver to allow high school credit for Algebra I, Spanish I, Geography and Civics and to approve such a waiver.