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Returning to School: A Two-Option Proposal

On Monday, July 27th, representatives from TCSD engaged in a live-streamed question and answer session on the Rosebud Sioux Tribe's Channel 93 YouTube channel. You can view the session here.

TCSD panelists: Carol Galbraith, Superintendent; Krista Morrison, Director of Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment; and Chuck Wilson, Athletic Director.

The TC two-option proposal was developed with guidance from the CDC, the SD Department of Education, Todd County Staff, and a strong knowledge of our community members' needs, including that many homes include multiple generations. 

The following CDC report, The importance of Reopening America's Schools this Fall, outlines the many reasons that we believe that Option 1: Having in-person education is so important. Based on the current fact about Covid-19 and the current numbers of active cases in Todd County, returning to school is recommended. However, we know not all families are comfortable with that option, and they are welcome to enroll their student(s) in SD Virtual School. 


On Thursday, July 23, 2020, Carol Galbraith, Superintendent of TCSD, and Krista Morrison, the Director of Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment put forth a proposal to the TCSD Board of Education that allows for two enrollment options for families and students. 

The RST invited Todd County School District representatives to present the proposal and other pertinent information about SD athletics in a live question and answer session on Monday, July 27. 

The School Board eagerly anticipates hearing from families, community members, and students about their thoughts on the proposal. Please participate in the live Q&A on July 27th to have your questions answered. 

The following is information about the two enrollment options for the 2020-21 school year. 

Each school site is in the process of developing a pandemic response plan using this template.

The template was created by the Health and Safety committee and outlines TCSD mission for providing educational services during the Covid-19 pandemic, our goals, and actions. Each school will develop specific action steps to provide a safe and quality educational experience for our students and staff. If possible, please review the Pandemic Plan Template prior to the Q&A session on Monday, July 27th.

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An Overview of Option 1: In-Person Education

  1. We recommend that all students would be back in school by September 8th.
  2.  In order to prepare for all necessary social distance, cleaning, and organizational considerations, additional professional development and work time will be added to the beginning of the year to support staff to prepare for students returning to buildings.
  3. In addition to preparing for students to return, teachers will attend professional development that supports their ability to move their courses and instruction to an online learning environment in cases it is needed.  All teachers will engage in district and school-specific professional development on the following dates: 1) August 17 – 19 & 24 (original dates on the calendar); and 2) August 25 – September 3: Administrators and teachers will receive training on the new Learning Management System (Schoology) and take a course about teaching in online learning environments,  in case a COVID-19 outbreak requires students and staff to move to an online/flexible learning environment.
  4. All teachers will use Schoology and ensure that both they and their students can transition to an online/flex learning environment immediately if necessary.
  5. TCSD staff will communicate with families and students about how to access and use Schoology.
  6. All teachers will continue to use district-approved curriculum for instruction and assessment.
  7. All students will take the district-approved diagnostic assessments (iReady and NWEA's MAP) along with all state-mandated assessments.
  8.  All students in grades 4 - 12 will be checked out a Chromebook.
  9.  Each family that has a student in grades K – 3 will receive a Onetab device that can be shared by everyone in the family. Onetab devices support reading, writing, and numeracy. The consistent use of these devices helps support missed learning opportunities for students in the spring of 2020. In addition, these devices will be important tools for students to use in case any attendance center needs to move to an online learning environment.
  10. All schools will provide a safe and clean learning environment that adheres to their approved Pandemic Plan.
  11.  If there is a confirmed risk of the spread of COVID-19 at an attendance center, the administrator(s) will follow the protocol outlined in their school Pandemic Plan.
  12.  In the event that a school has to move to an online/flex learning environment, all students in grades K-12 will be checked out a Chromebook to use for flexible learning.

An overview of Option 2: South Dakota Virtual School

Overview of the South Dakota Virtual School (SDVS)

  1. SDVS offers a variety of online courses. SDVS has coursework available for all grade levels and content areas for all required courses.
  2. SDVS offers a variety of courses that students can take on their own time, all taught by qualified professionals, and aligned to the state's content standards.
  3. Because the South Dakota Department of Education approves all courses, students can be assured that course offerings meet the state's high academic standards.
  4. SDVS Provider ensures all courses are taught by teachers certified in the content area in which they are providing instruction.

TCSD Responsibilities

  1. Students are registered for courses through TCSD, using the SDVS registration system.
  2. TCSD ensures that all state summative assessments in a secure environment and follow all summative assessment administration policies. This will require that all students attending SDVS be in-person at a designated testing location. All social distancing, cleaning, and health precautions will be in place at testing sites. 
  3. TCSD will assign an administrator to oversee all SDVS students and staff.
  4. TCSD will assign the staff who will provide services and support to English learners receiving distance learning instruction as well as screen any student who may potentially be an English learner.
  5. The district will assign credit associated with any course taken via SDVS (providers will assign the number grade).

Additional Support for Students

  1. All students enrolled in the SDVS will receive a Chromebook for engaging in online learning. Parents/guardians are required to pick up the computer at the school and sign the TCSD technology use agreement.
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Covid-19 Facts

Family and parent decisions about enrolling your student in an in-person environment or SD Virtual School should be made based on what we know about COVID-19.

Decision-making should be based on what we know to be true about COVID-19, knowing that our understanding of the virus will continue to evolve: 

  1. The rate of infection and the mortality rate of COVID-19 is higher than that of influenza. There are no known reliable therapeutics or vaccines for COVID-19. 
  2. These two factors combine to necessitate mitigation strategies beyond what a school would put in place for seasonal influenza.
  3. Asymptomatic individuals are infectious, though not to the same degree as those displaying symptoms.
  4. Children are carriers and are susceptible to the virus. Yet there are different levels of susceptibility throughout the population. 
  5. Measures such as social distancing and masks in confined spaces help reduce transmission. 
  6. It is not known: a) If you have had COVID-19, whether and when you could get it again, b) Whether seasonality affects COVID-19, or c) How much higher the infection rate of COVID-19 is than influenza.

Please note that we continually learn new things about this infection and parents and families should look to the SD Department of Health for updated information.

Planning, Safety, and Health Guidance

The South Dakota Department of Health and Department of Education have provided school districts with quality resources that have helped to make Todd County School District's two-option proposal and pandemic planning template possible. Below are a few of the key pieces that have guided this work. 

The district convened a Health and Safety committee that worked diligently to develop the Pandemic Planning Template. We would like to thank them for their hard work. We are confident that our school administrators and building leadership teams will develop solid plans that provide quality safety measures for our students, as well as ensure that all students receive a quality education.

The following documents can provide more information for community members, families, parents, and students about how TCSD developed its two-option plan and the pandemic planning template.

South Dakota Department of Education - Start Well 2020 Webpage