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School district devises plan to educate amid COVID-19 shutdown

Above, Monday, March 23 Lennox Administrative Assistant Angela Smit visited with families picking up information for their at-home learning. The Lennox Elementary is also a pickup site for the grab and go breakfast and lunch option. The state has provided funding to Lennox School District to serve sack lunches and breakfast at no cost to all K-12 students who need it during these school closures (available on regularly scheduled school days). Students may pick up these meals on a grab and go basis between the hours of 11 a.m. and 12 p.m. at the Lennox Elementary, Worthing Elementary or the Chancellor Reformed Church.

By Kelli Bultena

Tuesday, March 24 Lennox School District announced that schools would remain closed until May 1 following the recommendation of South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem.

Lennox Superintendent Chad Conaway said the situation is constantly evolving. He added the District will be sending information to families announcing the latest school closure and education plans. He said it was important to note that the School District has had a solid three quarters and are close to meeting the minimum requirements by the state.

The last two weeks have likely been a blur for administrators and teachers across the nation as local districts scramble to devise a way to continue education with school buildings shut-down. For most schools this is a combination of online learning and take-home assignments. Lennox School District announced their plan just last Wednesday, March 18.

Conaway said that on Friday, March 13 the district sent notification to families verifying that Lennox School District would be closed March 16-20, identification that the 19th and 20th were already planned days off for spring break. It was noted that all buildings would be shut down, and that the state tournament was postponed. At that time, he said, they continued to work on their Pandemic plan and initiated plans for possibly offering lunch to students, as well as plans for offering educational opportunities in the event this became a long-term closure.

By Saturday, March 14 the District had a plan to facilitate lunches for students on a grab and go basis at Lennox Elementary and on Sunday the families in the district were notified about it.

By Monday, March 16 they were still uncertain of whether the mandated closure would continue. The administrative team finalized details of the pandemic plan and worked toward rolling out some form of e-learning or distance learning for those who do not have access to internet. That day, the administrative team also discussed expanding lunch pickup points and the possibility of adding breakfast.

Conaway said he continued phone conferences with health officials and SD Department of Education (DOE), as well as meetings to discuss educational planning and ongoing cleaning details. The Lennox School Board met that evening at 5:30 and the listed agenda items, of which, was the pandemic plan started on Thursday 3-12-20. A new notification was sent out to parents notifying them that the district was adding a sack breakfast and including two more locations for pick-up —Worthing Elementary and Chancellor Reformed Church.

On Tuesday, the District continued work to evaluate the capacity for online or distance learning in the event of a long-term closure. And that afternoon the Governor announced on local media that she would require schools to be closed the week of March 23-27. Conaway said also that afternoon he had a meeting with the SD DOE and Department of Health to discuss how to provide services to students on Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) in a distance learning format, and they discussed requirements of distance learning to potentially count toward required instructional hours, and discussed recommendations for cleaning and activity in buildings.

That evening, a message went out to families about the ongoing closure and the ongoing opportunity to receive sack lunches and breakfast.

The educational plan then went out to families on March 18, so that students would be ready to learn at home on Monday, March 23.

Conaway stated, “Our goal during this extended absence is to limit learning regression and keep students engaged in learning activities. This is a fluid situation, you can expect this plan to evolve over time should we be required to be closed longer. Ongoing communication will follow next week.”

The plan included that teachers will communicate with parents through email and posts on their website. If families do not have access to email they should call (605) 647-2203 extension 8 between the hours of 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Teachers were to provide additional details for the learning plans on Monday, March 23.

As of Tuesday, educational plans during the closure were as follows: Junior Kindergarten - choice boards and Splash Learn. Grades K-2 - choice boards per grade level (which will include options that are both online learning and learning requiring no electronic device), Reading Eggs, Mathseeds, and other learning websites listed on teacher websites or email you receive from the teacher. Grades 3-6 - choice boards per grade level (which will include options that are both online learning and learning requiring no electronic device), Exact Path, and other learning websites listed on teacher websites or email you receive from the teacher. Grades 7-12 - students should continue to work on missing assignments, Edgenuity, Dual Credit classes, and checking Microsoft Teams for posting by their teachers. Teachers will be posting activities with a goal of 20 minutes per course per day.

It was noted that internet access was available on school owned devices can access Wi-Fi outside any district school building. Non-school owned devices may access a public Wi-Fi network outside of the Lennox Community Library.

Students were allowed building access on Monday in groups of ten people at certain times to get the items they may need for at-home learning.

Conaway closed by offering a reminder to continue with the following preventative actions: • Frequent and thorough hand washing for at least 20 seconds. • Use hand sanitizer if soap and water aren’t available. • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands. • Avoid close contact with sick people. • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue or cough/sneeze into your elbow. • Stay home when you are sick.

Documents and information referenced can be found on the School District website at


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