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Mitchell Board of Education to review return-to-school protocols

Restrictions expected to be relaxed for 2021-22

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Students and teachers will see a reprieve from the strict COVID-19 safety protocols implemented last year.

The Mitchell Board of Education will get a look at the district’s return-to-school protocols for the 2021-22 school year when it meets for its next regular meeting Monday, July 12 in the Mitchell Career & Technical Education Academy commons.

According to Joe Graves, superintendent for the Mitchell School District, the board will take a look at the protocols in question Monday, and the protocols will be posted on the Mitchell School District website as a way to garner input from the public. The protocols will then be reviewed again by the board of education at its first meeting in August, with the hope that the board approves them at that time.

With COVID-19 infection numbers down generally across the state, the district is expecting less restrictive measures on teachers, students and staff next year. That includes rescinding the controversial mask mandate that required anyone on district property to wear a face mask.

“In general, the protocols have been relaxed, including the removal of the mask mandate,” Graves wrote in the agenda notes for the meeting.

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Some safety measures would remain in place. Social distancing with a distance of at least 6 feet will still be expected when possible, students will walk on the right side of the hallway when switching classes between periods, spigots of water fountains for individual use will be closed off and students will be encouraged to use personal water bottles.

Visitor access to school grounds will also be limited for those who are not school employees or students.

For extracurricular activities, the district will operate according to guidance from the South Dakota High School Activities Association, the South Dakota Department of Education and the South Dakota Department of Health. Season events, games and practices will be held as regularly scheduled, though cancellations may occur should circumstances warrant or should competitor schools experience conditions which require them to cancel.

Though signs that the pandemic is on the wane are encouraging, Graves noted that district safety protocols may change if the situation requires it.

“Given the variants now finding their way to the United States, as well as other changes such as the availability of vaccines for ages 12 and up, any list of protocols will necessarily have to be considered to be open to changes over time,” Graves said.

Reorganization

The Mitchell Board of Education also is expected to reorganize for the 2021-22 school year at the meeting.

Among the tasks the board is expected to take as part of that reorganization, Neil Putnam and Lacey Musick will step down from their current seats on the board, and new board members Shawn Ruml and Brittni Flood, who were elected by Mitchell Board of Education voters to fill the two seats in June, will be sworn in for their first terms.

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Putnam and Musick both chose not to seek re-election to the board. Ruml and Flood emerged out of a field of six candidates for the two at-large seats.

Personnel

Also at the meeting, the board is expected to review the following personnel moves:

  • The new certified hires of Amber Hiles, middle school teacher, $42,500; Chaydon Metzger, 9th assistant volleyball coach, $1,557 and Gracie Kattner, special education at Mitchell Middle School, $44,750. All positions are effective the 2021-22 school year.

  • The new classified hire of Mary Pranger, paraeducator at L.B. Williams Elementary, $15.53, effective Aug. 18

  • The resignations of Carl Terveen, MCL English at Mitchell Middle School, effective June 30; Carolyn Sivik, librarian assistant at Gertie Belle Rogers Elementary, effective July 9; Andie Star, attendance secretary at Mitchell High School, effective Aug. 2021; and Bret Werpy, PAC director, effective July 31.

  • The Mitchell Technical College new hires of Dan Sieler, precision ag instructor, $60,500, effective Aug. 1; Nicole Grosz, powerline construction and maintenance instructor, $63,000, effective Aug. 1; and Nick Bakhtiari, director of foundation relations, $63,180, effective July 26.

Other business

Also at the July 12 meeting, the board is expected to:

  • Consider approval of the Earned Interest Allocation Resolution.

  • Consider approval of a resolution to designate all official depositories.

  • Consider approval of bids for construction materials for the 2021-22 Mitchell Technical College ADBC houses.

  • Hear board reports.

  • Hear the superintendent report.

  • Hear public commentary.

The Mitchell Republic will livestream the meeting . The meeting is open to the public.

Related Topics: EDUCATION
Erik Kaufman joined the Mitchell Republic in July of 2019 as an education and features reporter. He grew up in Freeman, S.D., graduating from Freeman High School. He graduated from the University of South Dakota in 1999 with a major in English and a minor in computer science. He can be reached at ekaufman@mitchellrepublic.com.
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