by Betty Bruner
March 17, 2020
NEWELL – Nearly 30 people gathered in the Newell School Multi-Purpose Room Tuesday evening for a special school board meeting held to pass on information concerning the mandated COVID-19 virus school closings.
Superintendent Robin Dutt opened the session by assuring the gathering that school staff was doing their best cleaning and disinfecting the school buildings and buses.
“We are planning on educating the kids,” she said. Grades for this quarter will be posted online and there is a possibility of Parent-Teacher Conferences being held per phone call for some students.
It is unknown at this time if the days missed will be waived by the state. It may be a process of applying for a waiver for schools that provide online learning. The school district has missed four days and six hours so far. That number increases with the school being closed for another week.
Middle School teachers have opted for paper based class materials, while the High School will do online as much as possible. Elementary students will be given packets of schoolwork. The Newell School website will have further details and should be checked regularly according to Dutt.
One of the concerns of the public was the accessibility of meals for those students who rely on school meals. A program through the State will provide breakfast and lunch to every child 0-18 years old at no charge. A sack meal will be made at the school and be distributed at the school and possibly by bus along the school bus route. The meals must be requested and the child must be present to receive the meal.
Pastor Terri Blanchett, who is in charge of the Newell Food Pantry, volunteered to keep the Back Pack Program stocked so that families would receive food to cover the weekends.
Support staff also had several concerns about pay options. Board President Miles Burtzlaff assured them that possibilities will be worked out and the Board will investigate it further.
Burtzlaff stated, “We are driven by the State” so many decisions are out of their hands.
When school does reconvene, Dutt is confident that students will be monitored closely. She cautions parents to be aware if their child has flu or cold symptoms and to keep them home.
Several activities have been cancelled or postponed. The best thing to do is to continue to check out the school’s website, newell.k12.sds.us. Updates will be posted regularly.