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Coronavirus/COVID19 Information

This page has been constructed for the purpose providing a single source of information being provided by the Groton Area School District throughout the current pandemic situation. We've provided updates and announcements through a variety of platforms, but felt as though a single site may be helpful as the amount of information and frequency of announcements grows.

This situation is very unique and information is coming and changing very quickly based on all sorts of factors. We will do our best to continue making decisions for the best interest of our students, staff, and community in the days and weeks ahead based upon the best information available to us.


Groton Area School District
Active COVID-19 Cases
Updated November 24, 2020; 12:59 PM
JK KG 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 Staff Total
1 1 1 1 10 0 0 0 1 100 0 2 9

A positive case is considered active for a minimum of ten days after onset of symptoms.  It is important to note that not all reported cases have been in school or school activities during their infectious periods (48 hours prior to onset of symptoms).


Thursday, November 13, 2020

Today, I’d like to provide a few updates on the COVID-19 situation and protocols within the district.

First, thank you to everyone for doing their part in keeping the spread of this illness to a minimum within our schools. We truly appreciate the attention paid to honestly monitoring symptoms, keeping children home when they’re symptomatic (even with minor symptoms), proactively keeping children and siblings home while awaiting test results for members of the household, and communicating with school district representatives. These important sacrifices are, at best, inconvenient, and often downright frustrating and irritating.

The mantra, “We’re all in this together” is very true in a literal sense in this situation in that we all depend on one another to do their part in following protocols to limit the exposure of family, friends, classmates, and school staff so that we can march on in providing the in-person education and access to extra-curricular activities that are so critical for our children.

Several weeks back, we began providing active COVID-19 numbers for our school district on the district’s COVID-19 webpage in place of form letters for individual cases. That data is updated daily as active cases fluctuate. In many cases, because people have taken positive preventive approach to managing household illnesses such as staying out of school when there are suspected cases of infection within the household, the positive cases of students or staff reported were never at school or in school facilities during their infectious period.

We continue to work with the South Dakota Department of Health to investigate positive cases and identify those “close contacts” who may have been exposed and are at risk of developing infection.

Department of Health Quarantine/Isolation Calculators
Recently, the South Dakota Department of Health released a new calculator function on its website to aid the general public in determining the dates of isolation periods or quarantine periods.

School Breakfast and Lunch Programs
Free school breakfast and lunch services through the end of the school year to all enrolled students regardless of income eligibility. All students are enrolled and receiving benefits.

Abbot BinaxNOW Rapid Antigen Tests
The District has developed a new protocol for the administration of rapid COVID-19 tests. The use of these tests is authorized and provided for by the South Dakota Department of Health and South Dakota Department of Education. These rapid tests involve collecting a specimen by use of a nasal swab inserted about 1 inch into each nostril which is much less invasive than the nasopharyngeal swabs used for the PCR tests given in most clinics. Results are available in 15 to 30 minutes after specimen collection.

The tests can be used on symptomatic students or staff members and intended specifically for those whose symptoms begin during the school day. There are some clear benefits to implementation and use of the rapid tests, most notably the turn-around time of 15-30 minutes as opposed to 2-4 days and cost. These tests are available at no charge. For students who develop symptoms outside of school hours, we must insist that they not show up at school. Please do not send symptomatic children to school. Testing for students who develop symptoms outside of school hours (overnight, for example) is available by appointment by contacting school nurse, Beth Gustafson, at 605-397-8381.

Groton Area School District Rapid Covid Testing
Groton Area School District Rapid Covid Testing Consent Form

Christmas Concerts
The middle school and high school students will be performing separate concerts on Tuesday, December 8, 2020 for the middle school and on Thursday, December 10, 2020 for the high school, both at 7:00 PM. We encourage those attending to follow the advice of our health professionals: wear a mask, physically distance from others not in your household, stay home if you’re sick, and wash your hands.

The elementary students will perform their concert live streamed only on Tuesday, December 22 at 1:00 PM from the elementary school. School will dismiss at 2:00 PM on Tuesday, December 22 for Christmas break.

3rd Quarter Remote Learning
The deadline to apply for remote learning for the third quarter is Thursday, December 10, 2020.

Off-Campus Remote Learning Contract


Tuesday, October 13, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to pose many challenges for our community. The school district is no exception to that. We’ve gone from a very quiet start to the school year in terms of COVID-19 diagnoses of students or staff to a very busy couple of weeks.

At the time of this message, there are currently 19 active cases of COVID-19 for students and staff members of the Groton Area School District. The District has modified its protocol for notifying parents of a positive case of COVID-19 from sending a separate notification for each case to publicly reporting data totals by grade level on the district website on the COVID-19 page. We hope that doing so makes it easier for parents to actively monitor the situation as it relates to their children rather receiving, sorting, and tracking separate notifications on each individual case.

It is important to note that cases are considered active for a minimum of ten days following the onset of symptoms but may be longer if symptoms are not resolved by the tenth day. Additionally, not all positive cases were physically present at school or school activities during their infectious period.

The District continues to review protocols seeking additional ways we can act to slow down the rate of infection within our community, and we will continue our efforts of providing a clean and safe school environment.

One of the biggest challenges associated with operating schools this fall has been that of contact tracing and the subsequent issue of quarantines for close contacts. The Department of Health recommends that individuals self-quarantine for a period of 14 days following a close contact exposure to someone infected with COVID-19.

Some of the challenges associated with effective contact tracing in schools include:

Depending on a variety of factors such as the onset of symptoms, testing timelines, and communication between the Department of Health, the patient, and the District, close contacts are sometimes not determined until well into the recommended quarantine period.

While the district can assist the Department of Health with contact tracing for time spent in school and school activities, we cannot be involved with that process outside of the school day. We encourage you to be truthful and transparent with Department of Health officials if and when they contact you regarding a positive case within your household.

While symptoms can develop 2-14 days following exposure, the Centers for Disease Control reports that the median timeline for developing illness following exposure is 4-5 days. The exclusion of students from school for any longer than necessary can be harmful to a child’s educational, social, and emotional development.

The Groton Area Board of Education has adopted a modified procedure for students that have been in close contact with positive cases of COVID-19 that will allow them to return to the classroom on the sixth day following exposure under the condition that they remain asymptomatic and wear a face covering during their recommended 14 day quarantine period. Students previously asked to quarantine may return to school on Wednesday, October 14 if they agree to wear a face mask for the remainder of their quarantine period and they remain asymptomatic. Students may also return to their school-based activities according to this timeline.

The procedures for students who have tested positive for COVID-19 remains unchanged and require a minimum isolation period of ten days, being fever free for 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medications, and a general improvement in symptoms. The Department of Health is responsible for releasing individuals from their isolation periods.

Our primary goal of this year has been to preserve in-person learning for our students. Giving parents and students the option of returning to regular instruction in the school environment during their recommended quarantine period provided the student wears a mask will help us to balance the goal of in-person instruction for all students with the need to preserve a safe and healthy environment for students and staff members.

If these changes to protocol lead you to determine that the best decision for your children is to opt-in to remote learning, we will allow enrollments to occur outside of the pre-determined window for enrollment. This can be done by contact your school office 605-397-8381 (MS/HS) or 605-397-2317 (Elementary).

Please do your part in helping to keep our students, school staff, and community safe and healthy. Actively monitor your symptoms and symptoms of your children. Stay home if you’re sick keeping in mind that many people, especially young people, infected with COVID-19 will have only mild symptoms. Wear a mask in public settings to reduce the likelihood of asymptomatic transmission, especially when physical distancing is not possible. Practice good hand hygiene.

We do not have all the answers when it comes to handling the COVID-19 pandemic. We will continue to carefully and thoughtfully monitor the impact of COVID-19 on our students and staff alongside any changes to the public health recommendations to modify our response bearing in mind our primary goal of preserving in-person learning.


Tuesday, September 1, 2020

As we enter the month of September, we are grateful for a good start to our 2020-2021 school year. Discussions about how to best handle the health pandemic will continue throughout the duration of the school year and changes to practices should be expected as conditions warrant, guidelines change, or better information becomes available.

Below is a brief summary of COVID-19 related information. Thank you all for your support and efforts in trying to keep our kids in school and school activities.

Masks required for indoor activities.

Beginning with the home volleyball match tonight vs. Ipswich, the Groton Area School District will require spectators to wear masks during indoor activities. Spectators will not be admitted without an appropriate face covering and are expected to correctly wear it during the event until they leave the building.

Our student-athletes and coaches have been working very hard to follow the protocols necessary to protect their season. Everyone in attendance is asked to do their part to help us give our student-athletes the best opportunity to complete all season long by cleaning their hands and using the hand sanitizer available, wearing a mask, and physically distancing from others. Those who are showing symptoms of COVID-19 need to stay home. Those at an elevated risk of complications from COVID-19 should strongly consider staying home.

Tonight’s match vs. Ipswich will be streamed by Paper Paul on GDILive.com.

Exclusion from school based on COVID-19 symptoms.

On August 18 the South Dakota Department of Health revised the definition of substantial community spread. Brown County is now considered to have substantial community spread of COVID-19 which requires different action on the part of the school district in response to students showing symptoms of COVID-19.

Department of Health Community Transmission Definitions

We are definitely aware that the symptoms of COVID-19 overlap many other regular conditions likely to be affecting our students. Those symptoms, however, combined with possible community exposure require one of three actions before we can re-admit students or staff members to the school setting:

1.Student or staff receives a negative COVID-19 test.

2.Student or staff is assumed to be positive and self-isolates for a period of ten days.

3.Student or staff sees their healthcare provider and is cleared to return to the school setting.

Department of Health Guidelines for School Exclusion

What to expect when there are positive cases within your child's school.

When we experience a positive COVID-19 case within the school, we will notify those families potentially impacted by such a case by use of a general notification letter. The letter indicates only that someone within the school has tested positive along with a reminder of the symptoms to be watchful for and the basic precautions for avoiding illness.

General Notification Letter Sample

What to expect when your child may be considered a close-contact.

If your child has been within 6 feet of a COVID-19 positive individual for a period of fifteen minutes or longer, they will be considered a "close contact" and asked to quarantine for a period of fourteen days from the date of last exposure. If the district has knowledge of a positive case and is reasonably certain that the South Dakota Department of Health will consider your child a "close contact" we will provide you a letter indicating such and asking you to begin the quarantine period. The South Dakota Department of Health will continue to investigate each positive case and develop their list of "close contacts." If your child has been excluded from school attendance and the South Dakota Department of Health later determines that they do not meet the definition of "close contact" your child will be immediately re-admitted to the school setting.

Non-confirmed Close Contact Letter Sample

Respectfully,

Joe Schwan, Superintendent


Tuesday, September 1, 2020

The Groton Area School District will be requiring spectators who attend indoor school activities to wear a mask beginning with tonight’s home volleyball match against Ipswich. Spectators will not be admitted without an appropriate face covering and are expected to correctly wear it during the event until they leave the building. 

Our student-athletes and coaches have been working very hard to follow the protocols necessary to protect their season. Everyone in attendance is asked to do their part to help us give our student-athletes the best opportunity to complete all season long by cleaning their hands and using the hand sanitizer available, wearing a mask, and physically distancing from others. Those who are showing symptoms of COVID-19 need to stay home. Those at an elevated risk of complications from COVID-19 should strongly consider staying home.

Tonight’s match vs. Ipswich will be streamed by Paper Paul on GDILive.com.


Thursday, July 29, 2020

On Monday, July 27 the Groton Area Board of Education and reviewed and adopted an initial plan for resuming school in the fall of 2020.  The plan contains information about different response levels the district is preparing as well as protocols for close contacts and positive cases within our schools.  The document also outlines expectations for remote learning and the option for students to enroll in remote learning if that would be appropriate for their situation.

The district intends to begin the year with traditional learning beginning on August

The deadline to opt-in to remote learning for the first quarter is Friday, August 7, 2020.  To notify the district of your intent to participate in remote learning, complete and submit the Remote Learning Enrollment Form to the school office.


Thursday, June 25, 2020
Shared Responsibility Flyer

Now, more than ever, it is critical to realize our interdependence on one another.

Staying healthy and responsible during the COVID-19 pandemic is a shared responsibility. People within our community are depending on each other to make good choices to avoid the unnecessary transmission of a new virus.

Being a good citizen and neighbor right now means respecting other peoples’ personal space, being honest with yourself about health symptoms, and staying home when you’re not feeling well to limit others’ exposure.

We know that a localized outbreak of COVID-19 puts our intentions of returning to the classroom and extra-curricular activities in jeopardy. We must be diligent in our efforts now to be well-positioned for a return to the education that is so important to our students.

Here’s a reminder of the important, practical steps that we can all take:

  • Wash your hands frequently for 20 seconds with soap and warm water.
  • Stay home when you’re sick.
  • Avoid close contact with people – physical distancing.
  • Wear a mask when you’re in public spaces.
  • Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue or the inside of your elbow.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily.
  • Monitor your health.

Know the Symptoms of COVID-19

  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath/difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Greetings!

We hope that each of you is having a great start to your summer. We’ve been working at examining what education will look like in the fall of 2020 given that concerns around Coronavirus will be ongoing. To that end, a task force of thirteen individuals has been formed to review and discuss data and guidance documents to develop a plan unique for our schools.

The group will be looking at what mitigation measures can be put in place for nearly all aspects of our typical operations so that we can be as safe as possible while being able to provide our students with a top of the class education.

Individual perceptions of the impact of COVID-19 varies greatly from person to person. We are asking for your help as we inch closer to the start of the 2020-21 school year by completing the survey below. In order for us to get the clearest picture of our situation, we would like for each family to complete one survey for each student.

The survey is short and contains an opportunity for you to provide us with your suggestions. We want to do our very best to make health-conscious decisions in the interest of our community that will be supported. Your participation is voluntary, but would be very helpful. Thank you in advance for your time and response.

Stay well.

Joe Schwan Superintendent

https://forms.gle/bb9TGetUUNL2QxsK9


Friday, May 29, 2020

The South Dakota High School Activities Association adopted guidelines for schools in returning to school-based athletics at their meeting on Thursday, May 28.  The document below has been created for the Groton Area School District.

Plan for Resumption of Summer Athletics


Friday, May 1, 2020

Community Update May 1, 2020

Thank you for all of your efforts in providing for the education of our kids this spring. We’ve asked for your support and help in keeping your kids on track more than normal during this period of great uncertainty and stress. We recognize the challenges associated with trying to implement a new system of teaching and learning and appreciate the steps taken by students and parents in meeting these challenges.

We are nearing the end of the 2019-2020 school year and have begun to finalize plans for final course work and return of school-district property including athletic uniforms and equipment, band instruments, textbooks, computers, computer bags, computer cords, library books, etc. [Note: Students enrolling in driver’s education will be permitted to keep their school-issued computer until completion of the driver’s education virtual coursework] We will still be complying with sanitation and social distancing requirements throughout this process and ask those returning items to consider wearing a face covering.

The final day for our class of 2020 seniors will be Friday, May 8th. Congratulations to all of our graduates on their accomplishments, and we wish them all the best in their next endeavors. The return of materials for seniors will take place on Tuesday, May 12 at the GHS gym according to the following schedule:

Class of 2020 Materials Return and Check Out
Tuesday, May 12, 2020
Time Last Names Beginning with…
9:00 - 9:30 AM A-D
9:30 - 10:00 AM F-G
10:00 - 10:30 AM H-J
10:30 - 11:00 AM K-P
11:00 - 11:30 AM R-S
11:30 - 12:00 PM T-Z

The remainder of our students will continue to participate in flexible learning though Thursday, May 14. The return of materials will begin on Friday, May 15th and conclude on Monday, May 18th according to the following schedule:

Materials Return and Check Out
Friday, May 15, 2020 Monday, May 18, 2020
Time Last Names Time Last Names
9:00 - 9:30 AM Aalseth-Bahr 9:00 - 9:30 AM Krause-Larson
9:30 - 10:00 AM Barrera-Bonn 9:30 - 10:00 AM Lehman-Loeschke
10:00 - 10:30 AM Brooks-Cunningham 10:00 - 10:30 AM Lord-Mitchell
10:30 - 11:00 AM Cutler-Dunbar 10:30 - 11:00 AM Monson-Olson
11:00 - 11:30 AM Dunker-Feser 11:00 - 11:30 AM Osterman-Pharis
11:30 - 12:00 PM Fjeldheim-Frasier 11:30 - 12:00 PM Pigors-Sandness
1:00 - 1:30 PM Freeman-Gleason 1:00 - 1:30 PM Say-Sippel
1:30 - 2:00 PM Gonsoir-Heathcote 1:30 - 2:00 PM Slaight-Thorn
2:00 - 2:30 PM Heilman-Hubbs 2:00 - 2:30 PM Thurston-Wambach
2:30 - 3:00 PM Imrie-Johnson 2:30 - 3:00 PM Warrington-Wilson
3:00 - 3:30 PM Jones-Kramer 3:00 - 3:30 PM Wipf-Zoellner

Materials will need to be dropped off at the elementary for grades PK-5 and at the high school for grades 6-12. We will not be collecting school materials on the bus routes.

The final delivery day for the school lunch program will be Wednesday, May 20 which will include lunches through Friday, May 22 for those students participating in that program.

Thank you again for the support, patience, and determination you’ve shown throughout this final quarter of the 2019-2020 school year.

Respectfully,

Joe Schwan
Superintendent


Thursday, April 9, 2020

Community Update April 9, 2020

Dear Families of Groton Area School Students,

As announced by Governor Noem earlier this week, South Dakota schools – including Groton Area – will remain closed for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year. We will continue to promote educational growth and opportunity through implementation of the flexible learning plan. More than ever, we’re counting on the cooperation of parents and students in actively participating in this learning by completing assignments and participating in class activities. While nothing can replace the time we’re losing in school, we all share a responsibility to grow as much as possible during this time.

For the week of April 13 through April 17, there will be a couple of changes to what has become our new “normal” routine. First, the delivery of academic materials will take place on Tuesday, April 14th in the typical manner at the MS/HS and elementary buildings according to the schedule below for in-town students and by using our bus routes for out-of-town students. School lunches will be handed out in a drive-thru manner from the elementary location only – MS/HS students receiving lunches should pick up their school work then drive through the elementary parking lot to pick up their lunches. If your family is not currently receiving lunches but would like to begin, please contact Mr. Clocksene at Brandon.Clocksene@k12.sd.us. The second date for meal delivery next week will be Thursday, April 16 by delivery and at the elementary.

During this process, we want to ensure that we can be mindful of the recommendations of health officials concerning the size of group gatherings, personal hygiene for clean hands, and social distancing. Only one representative from each family will be permitted to pick up materials and will be asked to take materials for all family members. Nobody that feels ill or is otherwise under advisement for quarantine should be sent to gather materials. We must also request for questions and discussions with staff members be limited during the in-person exchanges and invite those questions via phone call or email. It is possible that not all students will have materials to pick up if all of their content is being provided online. We are encouraging people to wear bandanas or facemasks when they pick materials up. School staff have been asked to wear masks as an additional level of protection for those we encounter, so don’t be alarmed by this when you arrive.

The following schedule of material pick-up has been established for in-town residents. If possible, we ask that you make every effort to follow the timelines provided. If families are unable to make the established times work, they will not be turned away, but access may be managed if certain times become too busy. Each building will be open for pick-up from 8:00 AM to 10:00 AM. Pick-up from the elementary will be held in the Elementary Commons. Pick-up from the MS/HS will be held in the GHS Gymnasium.

Time Grade Level
8:00 AM PreK/JK Grade 6
8:15 AM K and Grade 7
8:30 AM Grade 1 and Grade 8
8:45 AM Grade 2 and Grade 9
9:00 AM Grade 3 and Grade 10
9:15 AM Grade 4 and Grade 11
9:30 AM Grade 5 and Grade 12
9:45 AM Busses will be loaded with materials for our out-of-town students.

Beginning at 9:45, we will be loading the school buses with materials for every student on a regular bus route whose materials haven’t been picked up. The buses will run their normal routes, stopping to drop off all of the materials for the week. We ask that families please respect the 6 foot personal boundaries for our delivery staff by not coming on to the school bus to try and retrieve materials. If you have muddy driveways or driveways that can’t otherwise be used by a bus, we are asking that you place a box or plastic tote at the end of your driveway for us to leave your materials in.

School Meals – Updated for Week of April 13 - April 17

Lunch Distribution will take place at the following times and places:

Tuesday, April 14, 2020 In-town students at Groton Area Elementary from 8:00 AM to 10:00 AM. Out-of-town students via bus routes.

Thursday, April 16, 2020 In-town students at Groton Area Elementary from 11:30 AM to 12:30 PM. Out-of-town students via bus routes.

We encourage all families to take advantage of this service during this time. All children in our district aged 18 and under are eligible for participation at no cost. Even if your participation is simply a matter of personal convenience, we’d like to help. If you haven’t yet signed up for these meals and would like to begin participating, please contact us.

Sincerely,


Joe Schwan
Superintendent


Friday, April 3, 2020

Community Update April 3, 2020

Dear Families of Groton Area School Students,

Time marches on and learning will continue. Our plan for the next several weeks will continue to operate much as it has since inception. Details are included below on how distribution of lunches and school materials will take place over the next two weeks.

Delivery of the next week’s academic materials will take place on Monday, April 6, 2020. Following our Easter break, academic materials will be distributed on Tuesday, April 14, 2020. During this process, we want to ensure that we can be mindful of the recommendations of health officials concerning the size of group gatherings, personal hygiene for clean hands, and social distancing. Only one representative from each family will be permitted to pick up materials and will be asked to take materials for all family members. Nobody that feels ill in any way should be sent to gather materials. We must also request for questions and discussions with staff members be limited during the in-person exchanges and invite those questions via phone call or email. It is possible that not all students will have materials to pick up if all of their content is being provided online.

The following schedule of material pick-up has been established for in-town residents. If possible, we ask that you make every effort to follow the timelines provided. If families are unable to make the established times work, they will not be turned away, but access may be managed if certain times become too busy. Each building will be open for pick-up from 8:00 AM to 10:00 AM. Pick-up from the elementary will be held in the Elementary Commons. Pick-up from the MS/HS will be held in the GHS Gymnasium.

Time Grade Level
8:00 AM PreK/JK Grade 6
8:15 AM K and Grade 7
8:30 AM Grade 1 and Grade 8
8:45 AM Grade 2 and Grade 9
9:00 AM Grade 3 and Grade 10
9:15 AM Grade 4 and Grade 11
9:30 AM Grade 5 and Grade 12
9:45 AM Buses will be loaded with materials for our out-of-town students.

Beginning at 9:45, we will be loading the school buses with materials for every student on a regular bus route whose materials haven’t been picked up. The buses will run their normal routes, stopping to drop off all of the materials for the week. We ask that families please respect the 6 foot personal boundaries for our delivery staff by not coming on to the school bus to try and retrieve materials. If you have muddy driveways or driveways that can’t otherwise be used by a bus, we are asking that you place a box or plastic tote at the end of your driveway for us to leave your materials in.

Until further notice, we will not be collecting any paper materials for return. This is part of our effort to reduce the amount of materials exchanging hands limiting potential exposure to contaminants. Similarly, materials being sent home will be ready for distribution by Friday and left un-touched until Monday to protect students and families.

In order for students to learn, it is critical that work and activities are completed as assigned. We are making a conscious effort to balance the need for continued learning relative to families’ other current needs including parent work schedules.

During the week, staff will be available via email or telephone from 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM daily to answer questions, and provide support and assistance to students. There will not be any face-to-face meetings or contacts made during the closure.

There has been a link added to our website for technical support for our students in grades 6-12 who may be encountering difficulties with their computers.

School Meals – Updated for Week of April 6 and April 13

Lunch Distribution will take place at the following times and places:

Monday, April 6, 2020 In conjunction with delivery of academic materials according to the schedule above.

Wednesday, April 8, 2020 In-town students at Groton Area Elementary from 11:30 AM to 12:30 PM. Out-of-town students via bus routes.

Tuesday, April 14, 2020 In conjunction with delivery of academic materials according to the schedule above.

Thursday, April 16, 2020 In-town students at Groton Area Elementary from 11:30 AM to 12:30 PM. Out-of-town students via bus routes.

We encourage all families to take advantage of this service during this time. All children in our district aged 18 and under are eligible for participation at no cost. Even if your participation is simply a matter of personal convenience, we’d like to help. If you haven’t yet signed up for these meals and would like to begin participating, please contact us.

Sincerely,


Joe Schwan
Superintendent


Thursday, March 26, 2020

Community Update - March 26, 2020

Dear Families of Groton Area School Students,

Thank you to everyone for their cooperation in receipt of materials on Wednesday, March 25. With your cooperation, we were able to safely and efficiently distribute a lot of material and supplies. As you know by now, the Groton Area School District will remain closed through May 1, 2020. This includes all extra-curricular events, practices, and meetings.

Delivery of the next week’s academic materials will take place on Monday, March 30. During this process, we want to ensure that we can be mindful of the recommendations of health officials concerning the size of group gatherings, personal hygiene for clean hands, and social distancing. Only one representative from each family will be permitted to pick up materials and will be asked to take materials for all family members. Nobody that feels ill in any way should be sent to gather materials. We must also request for questions and discussions with staff members be limited during the in-person exchanges and invite those questions via phone call or email. It is possible that not all students will have materials to pick up if all of their content is being provided online.

The following schedule of material pick-up has been established for in-town residents. If possible, we ask that you make every effort to follow the timelines provided. If families are unable to make the established times work, they will not be turned away, but access may be managed if certain times become too busy. Each building will be open for pick-up from 8:00 AM to 10:00 AM. Pick-up from the elementary will be held in the Elementary Commons. Pick-up from the MS/HS will be held in the GHS Gymnasium.

Time Grade Level
8:00 AM PreK/JK Grade 6
8:15 AM K and Grade 7
8:30 AM Grade 1 and Grade 8
8:45 AM Grade 2 and Grade 9
9:00 AM Grade 3 and Grade 10
9:15 AM Grade 4 and Grade 11
9:30 AM Grade 5 and Grade 12
9:45 AM Busses will be loaded with materials for our out-of-town students.

Beginning at 9:45, we will be loading the school buses with materials for every student on a regular bus route whose materials haven’t been picked up. The buses will run their normal routes, stopping to drop off all of the materials for the week. We ask that families please respect the 6 foot personal boundaries for our delivery staff by not coming on to the school bus to try and retrieve materials. If you have muddy driveways or driveways that can’t otherwise be used by a bus, we are asking that you place a box or plastic tote at the end of your driveway for us to leave your materials in.

Until further notice, we will not be collecting any paper materials for return. This is part of our effort to reduce the amount of materials exchanging hands limiting potential exposure to contaminants. Similarly, materials being sent home will be ready for distribution by Friday and left un-touched until Monday to protect students and families.

In order for students to learn, it is critical that work and activities are completed as assigned. We are making a conscious effort to balance the need for continued learning relative to families’ other current needs including parent work schedules.

During the week, staff will be available via email or telephone from 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM daily to answer questions, and provide support and assistance to students. There will not be any face-to-face meetings or contacts made during the closure.

There has been a link added to our website for technical support for our students in grades 6-12 who may be encountering difficulties with their computers.

School Meals – Updated for Week of March 30

The District will continue to offer free lunches to all enrolled students regardless of income eligibility. Meals will be provided to families on Mondays in conjunction with distribution of academic materials. For those families with multiple students, the meals will be distributed from the building of the youngest student. For example, a family with students in grades 3, 4, and 8 will pick up their meals from the elementary. A family with students in grades 7 and 10 would pick up their meals from the high school. Meals for the second half of the week will be served from the elementary from 11:30 AM to 12:30 PM on Wednesday.

We encourage all families to take advantage of this service during this time. Even if your participation is simply a matter of personal convenience, we’d like to help. If you haven’t yet signed up for these meals and would like to begin participating, please contact us.

Sincerely,


Joe Schwan
Superintendent


Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Community Update - March 24, 2020

Groton Area School Community,

You should have received a personal contact yesterday from your child’s teacher about the current state of affairs for the Groton Area School District.

Beginning tomorrow morning (Wednesday, March 25) at 7:00 AM, the Groton Area Elementary Commons and Groton Area High School Gymnasium will be open to pick up academic materials and lunches. If possible, we ask that you help us to manage the number of individuals in the building by following the timelines established below:

Time Grade Level
8:00 AM JK/PreK and Grade 6
8:15 AM K and Grade 7
8:30 AM Grade 1 and Grade 8
8:45 AM Grade 2 and Grade 9
9:00 AM Grade 3 and Grade 10
9:15 AM Grade 4 and Grade 11
9:30 AM Grade 5 and Grade 12
9:45 AM Busses will be loaded with materials for our out-of-town students.

Access to these spaces will be controlled in accordance with the CDC established guidelines of fewer than ten people. If there is a line outside of the building, consider staying in your car until we can allow you in. For anyone outside of town, we will be delivering materials via our school bus routes. Work will begin to load those materials beginning at 9:45 and will continue until complete.

Following the School Board meeting that was held on Monday, March 23 I’d like to take an opportunity to inform you of the following:

  • The Groton Area Prom has been postponed to a date TBD. We acknowledge that it may not be possible to effectively reschedule this event, but out of care for the students whose school experience has been stripped, it was decided that if possible, we should try to allow for this event when it becomes safe and prudent to do so.

    Given the possibility that this event may not take place, we are encouraging anyone with a tuxedo rental to cancel their rentals and for those who have not yet purchased dresses, shoes, etc. to please don’t go out and spend your money on those items until we can establish for certain that this event will be rescheduled.

  • The music trip scheduled for mid-April has been cancelled. Our music instructors will begin work to obtain the maximum refund possible.
  • Graduation is not currently being moved. There is wide agreement among board members and administrators that our class of 2020 has earned (or will have earned J) the opportunity for a graduation ceremony. We will continue to monitor the guidelines and recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and the South Dakota Department of Health pertaining to appropriate sizes for gatherings as this important date approaches.
  • We anticipate learning more from our state government officials today about what the immediate future holds for public schools in South Dakota and will announce any programming changes accordingly.
  • Now, more than ever, the concept of parents and educators being partners in the education of our children is being tested. As educators, we are leaning on families and students to help in ensuring that our students are not falling behind academically during these times. Please join us in requiring mindful completion of student assignments and work with an emphasis on learning the material as opposed to rapid completion to check an item off a to-do list.

    Communication is much different – even if more important - right now due to our lack of face-to-face contact with our students. We ask that you or your children be available for phone calls or email as appropriate from teachers and school staff and that you or your children will actively reach out for support as they need it. We are still here, and still working on behalf of our students.


Friday, March 20, 2020

Letter to Parents - March 20, 2020

Dear Families of Groton Area School Students,

The faculty of the Groton Area School District has been provided with a framework from which to build alternative forms of instruction beginning next week. We will be hosting a virtual meeting with all of them on Monday morning to further clarify our plan and help to provide any support that we can. I am very happy to say that they are eager to be back in touch with their students providing educational opportunities.

Following our staff meeting we are asking our teachers to reach out to families by phone to establish a line of communication, check in, and find the answer to four questions:

  • Are you aware of what our plan for the coming week is?
  • Do you have access to meals for your children? Do you want to participate in the free meals [Details below] being offered by the District?
  • What is the best way for us to communicate with you?
  • What is your access to technology devices and/or Internet?

They will also try to answer any questions you have about what your next steps should be.

In order for us to accomplish our goals, we need to be able to get supplies and materials into the hands of the students. This will take place on Wednesday, March 25 from 7:00 AM to 12:00 PM. During this process, we want to ensure that we can be mindful of the recommendations of health officials concerning the size of group gatherings, personal hygiene for clean hands, and social distancing. The following schedule of material pick-up has been established for in-town residents.

If possible, we ask that you make every effort to follow the timelines provided. If families are unable to make the established times work, they will not be turned away, but access may be managed if certain times become too busy. Each building will be open for pick-up from 7:00 AM until 12:00 PM. Pick-up from the elementary will be held in the Elementary Commons. Pick-up from the MS/HS will be held in the GHS Gymnasium.

Time Grade Level
8:00 AM JK and Grade 6
8:15 AM K and Grade 7
8:30 AM Grade 1 and Grade 8
8:45 AM Grade 2 and Grade 9
9:00 AM Grade 3 and Grade 10
9:15 AM Grade 4 and Grade 11
9:30 AM Grade 5 and Grade 12
9:45 AM Busses will be loaded with materials for our out-of-town students.

Beginning at 9:45, we will be loading the school buses with materials for every student on a regular bus route whose materials haven’t been picked up. The buses will run their normal routes, stopping to drop off all of the materials for the rest of the week.

Materials to be picked up and/or delivered on Wednesday will include student computers and chargers for students in grades 6-8, coursework and materials (e.g. textbooks) needed for the remainder of the week, personal items from student lockers, and school meals for three days.

In the event that the school closure is extended, a similar system will be employed for the return of completed coursework and distribution of new material and meals on Monday, March 30 with adjustments made as necessary based on lessons learned from the initial distribution. The current plan is to provide material exchanges on a week-by-week basis on Mondays with the exception of school meals which will be provided on Mondays and Wednesdays.

During the week, staff will be available via email or telephone from 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM daily to answer questions, and provide support and assistance to students. There will not be any face-to-face meetings or contacts made during the closure.

School Meals

The District will be providing free meals to all enrolled students regardless of income who wish to participate. Meals for three days will be sent along with classroom materials on Wednesday, March 25. If the closure is to continue, additional meals will be provided on Mondays and Wednesdays at the Groton Area Elementary from 11:30 AM to 12:30 PM. Pending approval, we plan to also distribute meals to our out-of-town students through our transportation services (bus routes). There is no charge for these meals. One change from the way we’ve provided meals for this week will be that students have to be physically present to receive a meal. This is a USDA requirement which has not yet been waived. We are encouraging all families to participate in this service.

We appreciate the support of our community as we work through these days. Among all of the uncertainty, many have reached out to provide support for students and families in need. I’ve always felt that our communities are supportive of our children through action. We appreciate your understanding and patience as we continue to proceed the implementation of these flexible learning opportunities. If there is anything that we can do to help you support your children or your families please don’t hesitate to reach out.

Sincerely,

Joe Schwan
Superintendent


Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Community Update - March 18, 2020

On Tuesday, March 17 the Groton Area Administrative Team met in discussion on providing flexible learning opportunities for our students moving forward. In particular, how can we provide some educational services during the week of March 23-27 given the known closure through that time. This afternoon, a draft plan was sent to our teachers seeking their input and clarifying questions. Further revisions will be made on Thursday with the anticipation that we can provide a plan to our students and parents on Thursday afternoon or Friday. Be on the lookout for information coming pertaining to learning opportunities for our students.

The sack lunch opportunities currently being provided will continue through the week of March 27. Please take advantage of this service if it would be helpful to you.

We’ve received notification that the April 4, 2020 ACT testing date has been postponed to June 13, 2020. Those students who had registered for that test should have received notification from ACT regarding the postponement.

As a community, please continue to follow the guidelines and recommendations of health officials including frequent hand washing with soap and water, practicing “social-distancing,” and not meeting in groups of larger than ten people. We are all being called upon to do our part in reducing the impact of this situation.


Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Governor Noem has announced the closure of South Dakota schools for one additional week through March 27, 2020.  We will be completing preparations for offering alternative forms of instruction beginning next week.  Details will be released when they become available.


Monday, March 16, 2020

Coronavirus School Closure - Meal Availability

The Groton Area School District, through the contributions of generous community members, will be offering free lunches to children aged 1 through grade 12 regardless of whether a family meets income criteria for free or reduced priced meals. Sack lunch meals will be served from the Groton Area Elementary school main entrance from 11:30 AM to 12:30 PM daily from Tuesday, March 17 through Friday, March 20. Lunches will be "grab and go" and provided at no cost. It is critically important for all community members that all individuals follow CDC guidelines for staying home if you are sick.

To help assist those members of our school community that live outside of the town of Groton and wish to receive meals, we want to assist in getting those meals to you. Please contact Joe Schwan at Joe.Schwan@k12.sd.us or 605-397-2351 (leave a message if no answer) for assistance in getting this service established for your family.

As the week progresses, we will be evaluating the effectiveness of this program and making modifications as necessary as well as developing contingencies in the event this service is required for a longer period of time.

If you wish to help financially support this important work, please contact Amanda Morehouse at the school business office at Amanda.Morehouse@k12.sd.us or 605-397-2351.

In addition, there is currently food available for families at Ken's Food Fair in Groton. Carts of donated food are available at the front of the store to help families with their nutritional needs. If you or someone you know is in need of support, stop at Ken's and take what you need.


Friday, March 13, 2020

Groton Area School District Closure

At the recommendation of Governor Noem, the Groton Area School District will be closed for the week of March 13-22. There will be no school on Monday, March 16, Tuesday, March 17 or Wednesday, March 18 in addition to our pre-planned spring break. Each attendance center will undergo additional cleaning measures during the extended break.

The facilities will be closed for any and all activities for the duration of the break beginning at 4:00 PM on Friday, March 13. OST will run as usual through the end of the day on Friday, March 13.

Students enrolled in NSU E-learning courses and dual credit courses should continue to monitor their online classrooms and watch for correspondence from their instructors. Board of Regents institutions are currently planning to resume classes on Monday, March 23 and the NSU E-learning center has a previously announced plan for continuity of learning for those students.

One of the stated goals of Governor Noem’s recommendation is to slow the spread of the coronavirus. In order for that goal to be realized, it is important that our students and families continue to practice social distancing and refrain from being around groups of people as well as maintaining and practicing good hygiene. We must be collectively judicious about our behaviors to prevent the spread of this virus upon returning to school.

Many questions still exist about what these decisions mean moving forward. We will provide updates as we are able.


Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Preventing the Spread of COVID-19

The South Dakota Department of Health is providing guidance and leadership to all South Dakota residents including public school districts regarding the nationwide concerns over the spread of COVID-19 also known as the Coronavirus.

Precautions recommended by the Department of Health to help in avoiding illness include

  • Follow CDC’s Travel Health Notices if you are traveling internationally.
  • Contact your medical provider if you become ill after international travel.
  • Cover your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze (with a tissue or into your sleeve).
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth.
  • Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds (or alcohol-based hand gel with at least 60% alcohol).
  • Stay home if you are sick.

These recommendations are drawing new and increased attention with the widespread concern over the Coronavirus but are good advice any time and would be effective against many kinds of illness. We will continue to encourage good hand washing techniques by our students and staff members and ask that students stay home when they’re sick. We currently have a good supply of appropriate disinfecting surface cleaners used by the custodial staff in cleaning and disinfecting commonly touched surfaces. We continue to have hand sanitizer available throughout each building for general use.

We will continue to follow the guidance of the CDC and state and local health officials about preparedness and responsiveness to this public health risk. We appreciate your understanding and support of these guidelines as we all work together to protect our kids and our communities.

South Dakota Department of Health COVID-19
Centers for Disease Control COVID-19
Centers for Disease Control Travel Information
What You Need to Know COVID-19
Symptoms of Coronavirus