Reports on dealing with COVID-19 occupied a major portion of the Elk Point-Jefferson School Board meeting Monday, Nov. 9.

The elementary school went to online learning for three days in October after several students and staff tested positive. Students spent over a week out of the classroom, including a Monday and Friday that were already off for conferences. K-5 Principal/District SPED Director Laura Throener said she and her staff learned a lot from the experience, things that were positive as well as things to learn from. One thing they’re working on is how teachers can navigate through documents on their screen while on Zoom. Otherwise they were pleased with how well the week went.

“We think what came of it was excellent,” she said. “We came back with healthy kids and healthy staff. We had a good positive week.”

Throener gave kudos to the lunchroom staff, who put together meals for the days off with only a weekend’s notice. They’ve made changes to how they serve students and spend hours on extra cleaning.

“As a parent of one of the elementary kids, I sure thought that went pretty darn well for the first time that they’ve been out of school,” board member Sabrina Sayler said. “They seemed to understand how to work the program and get in and watch the classes.”

Sayler appreciated how teachers shared the normal classroom schedule so students could stay on track, just as though they were in the classroom. She thought the teachers were really well prepared.

Middle School/High School Principal Skyler Eriksen said the adminstration team met after that week to talk about the experience and how it might apply to the upper grades. He said if the middle school or high school moves to online learning, it will be much different from this spring. Students will be expected to participate in the videos, be part of their classes and turn in assignments on time. He’s communicating that to both students and parents. Teachers have also been working with students to be sure they understand Google classroom applications.

“We’re as ready as we can be if we need to [go to online learning],” Eriksen said.

Eriksen said he’s looking at setting a deadline for students for online learning through Black Hills Online. Parents will need to decide whether to continue for second semester; new students will need to be signed up. He’ll release that information as soon as it’s available.

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