HURON (AP) – South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem on Wednesday said she will push for schools to bring students into classrooms at least part of the time during the upcoming school year but will leave it up to school districts to determine exactly what instruction looks like.
The Republican governor was visiting Huron to announce county and local funding for the coronavirus pandemic when she made the comments. Noem has encouraged people to figure out ways to avoid a complete lockdown on life, while avoiding situations where COVID-19 infections could rapidly spread. She indicated the state fair, slated for the beginning of September, would still be held in Huron, but with precautions like social distancing.
Since schools closed in March, 20% to 30% of students have not had contact with their teachers, according to the governor.
“We wonder if those children are in a safe situation and if they really are being adequately taken care of," Noem said.
The governor said the situation also shows the need for broadband internet access across the state, and she would be using some of the $1.25 billion in federal coronavirus relief funds to help students connect electronically to education.
While the number of new infections reported by health officials has declined steadily in the last two weeks, the Department of Health reported a jump in new cases Wednesday. 66 people were confirmed to have COVID-19, while one more person was reported to have died. The man who died was a Minnehaha County resident.
“In my viewpoint, we are not done with what we need to do to address the virus,” Noem said. “I think overwhelmingly the public wishes it was in our past.”
For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.