With the federal COVID-19 leave expiring Dec. 31, 2020, the Dakota Valley School Board discussed whether to extend the program on their own. Superintendent Dr. Jerry Rasmussen stated that when talking with other school districts, there was a mixture of what everyone was going to do. Some districts are not going to extend the program while others stated they would extend it either through the end of March or the school year.

Rasmussen said other Union County schools are stopping the program, while most schools up by Sioux Falls are extending it.

Board member Jeff Dooley asked how relevant the program has been.

“Pretty relevant,” business manager Jill Sponder answered. “We’ve paid out, probably around, $45,000 in salaries under that leave. And that does not include, like, if a teacher stays home because of a COVID-related reason, but they remote teach from home, we don’t count that against their 80 hours of leave. So that $45,000 doesn’t include those situations where they’re still working from home, but they’re absent.”

The board determined that since over a fourth of the school’s employees have utilized the program and cases are increasing slightly that they would extend the program through March 12. They will discuss another extension at their March 8 meeting.

On the same subject, Rasmussen informed the board that Dakota Valley should be receiving COVID-19 vaccines sometime in February, but has not heard a solid date yet. He stated that Avera Health is in charge of distributing vaccinations to Union County and they will contact the school when they have the vaccine or more information.

The board decided at their October meeting to provide ABC Busing with an extra stipend to help cover the costs of sanitizing their buses to protect the students. That decision ran through the end of 2020 and was to be reevaluated at the January meeting. Dooley questioned how often the company is sanitizing the buses.

Rasmussen explained that the company has an employee who goes through and wipes down all the seats, etc., after every morning and afternoon route. They also do this between all travelling athletics. The board approved extending the funding to ABC Busing through March 12.

See full story in this week’s Dakota Dunes / North Sioux City Times.