Schools across Cheyenne River have had to adjust to the whirlwind that is the coronavirus. The question about how to educate students during a global health crisis has been answered by area school boards- some have chosen virtual learning, while others have decided on traditional in-class settings.
The Takini School Board approved the Reopening Plan for School Year 2020-2021 which is aligned with the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe’s COVID-19 Emergency Response Status.
“The Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe is currently on Level 4: COVID Multiples, within this section, schools are identified as closed. Takini School will be implementing Phase C: Virtual E-Learning for students on August 24, 2020,” stated a post on the school’s social media site.
According to Takini Superintendent, Kit Veit, the school purchased IPads for students in grades K-5 and laptops for students in grades 6-12.
“We are currently working with CRST Telephone Authority to gain internet access for our Skyhawks. Takini School will be providing on-site training for parents, guardians, and students for devices and platforms,” Veit said.
Staff will be in communities this week to provide parents/guardians with enrollment packets and the Reopening Plan. Parents who have an incoming kindergarten student are asked to call the school.
“We hope everyone had a relaxing and safe summer vacation and are looking forward to the new venture we are about to embark on. This is an exciting time for Takini School as virtual e-learning will be a new experience for all of us. As a team, we know we will implement this learning style with ease to have an enjoyable and productive school year,” said Veit.
On Monday, July 27, in a special meeting, the Dupree School Board voted 5-0 to reopen the school and implement the school’s “Normal (Traditional) Operations” plan.
A copy of the Dupree Reopening Plan 2020-21 SY Board Approved plan can be found on the Dupree School website at dupree.k12.sd.us.
According to the website, under Plan A, the school will have “traditional operations with in-person learning for all students with modifications to ensure appropriate distancing, enhanced cleaning practices, improved personal hygiene practices, temperature screenings for all students and staff and changes to the lunch program to enhance health and safety.”
Students will have access to Google Classroom which is the District’s Learning Management System (LMS):
• Online instruction utilizing this platform will begin with students immediately so they are capable of logging into Google Classroom and accessing the learning tools and programs they will need should the District need to transition to other instructional formats in Plan B and C. Parent support and training for Google Classroom will be provided.
• Activities within the school day may be modified (e.g. recess, lunch, hall passing)
• Instruction on CDC guidelines such as hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette will be provided and modeled by all staff.
Under Plan A.2, “medically fragile students or those with other conditions that place them at risk of being with others, may opt for virtual learning.” To be accepted into this plan, the family “must provide documentation from a medical provider or counselor to indicate this would be the best plan for the student. Administrators and counselors will work with the family regarding these situations.”
The school’s plan also includes Assumption of Risk, which states “The Dupree School District acknowledges that there is no way to guarantee a totally safe environment from an infectious disease like COVID-19. But implementing best practices and following deliberate procedures has proven to significantly reduce the risk and the spread of the coronavirus infection.”
Registration for school will begin at the Central Building from Aug. 6-7. (See details on page A7) The first day of school is scheduled for Aug. 20.
Timber Lake School
Calls and messages left with Timber Lake Superintendent Dan Martin were not returned by press time. The Timber Lake School Board held a special meeting on Monday, July 27 during which they voted on a reopening plan. The approved plan was not uploaded to the school website as of press time, but a school official said it will be uploaded this week.
Tiospaye Topa School
Calls and messages left with Tiospaye Topa School Superintendent Brent Mareska were not returned by press time. The school posted on its social media page that it would “announce the Reopening Plan with start dates and education delivery” on July 28.
Cheyenne-Eagle Butte School
On Tuesday, July 21, C-EB school announced that virtual instruction would begin on Sep. 8, with plans to reassess in Oct.
“C-EB administration is working with the CRST Telephone Authority to secure internet access for online learning for our students. Teachers will schedule individual meetings with each student and their parents or guardians for a technology orientation during the first week of school,” stated a post on the C-EB social media site.
Students will be assigned a device for online learning and the school will use Google Suite, which includes Google Classroom, for instruction.
Registration will take place Aug. 3-6 (see full details on page A9).
The Academy has opted for virtual instruction and will begin school on Sep. 8. The school will be using Zoom and Google Classroom for online classes and they are working with CRST Telephone Authority to obtain internet access for students.
The school will have a drive-thru open house on Aug. 27 and registration is now open. Parents can pick up registration packets at the school.
CRST Head Start
The Cheyenne River Head Start Program also announced that they would conduct virtual learning beginning Sep. 14. The program is actively recruiting children for their Cherry Creek, Dupree, Eagle Butte, Red Scaffold, Swiftbird, Timber Lake, and White Horse locations (see full details on page A13)
CRST Telephone Authority
Bringing internet services to students has become an important focal point of the tribally-owned and operated authority.
“We are currently working with the schools on a plan for delivering broadband service to the unserved students in our service territory. We should have a better idea as we move into the next week,” said Mona Thompson, Telephone Authority General Manager.
According to Thompson, fiber is “deployed to approximately 95 percent of the homes within the five exchanges” that telephone authority provides telecommunications services to.
“C.R.S.T. Telephone Authority does plow new fiber drops to locations that do not have an existing fiber drop, i.e, a new house or a new business, once we have received the required documentation and application for service. C.R.S.T. Telephone Authority is working hard to ensure that all students have access to the internet,” Thompson stated.