With the drop in COVID-19 cases in Union County and the Elk Point-Jefferson School District, the EPJ board felt comfortable loosening some of the restrictions they put in place to stop the spread of the virus. One change is no longer limiting the number of spectators at school events.

However, at their regular meeting Monday, Feb. 8, board members agreed they do not want to take the district down one level in precautions, from yellow to green. That move would mean removing nearly all the safety requirements currently in place, including the required wearing of masks.

“We’ve come so far,” board member Noelle Jacobs said. “Let’s hang in there a few more months.”

Board member Sabrina Sayler agreed, saying the district should err on the side of caution and continue using conservative metrics to determine what precautions to keep in place.

The board’s biggest concerns were students being able to participate in their normal spring activities – prom, graduation, track and golf. Students missed out on all those last year. By keeping precautions in place, the board hopes positive numbers can stay down, and students will once again enjoy those activities.

Superintendent Derek Barrios also emphasized the fluid situation with the virus, as the district had no cases last week, but there is now a case in the high school. County numbers are also on their way back up.

“What we’ve been doing has kept us in school,” Barrios said.

The board decided to keep the district at its current level of yellow and current requirements.

Smarter Balance Testing is scheduled to begin in March and continue through early May. K-5 Principal/District SPED Director Laura Throener explained to the board how much more smoothly it will be this year at the elementary level. Since each student now has a computer, teachers can schedule the testing when they feel their students are ready for it, rather than when there’s time in the lab.

See full story in this week’s Leader-Courier.