COVID-19 crisis continues throughout the nation

Computer carts line the library at Parker School on Tuesday, March 17. Approximately 85 computers were given out on Monday, March 16 to elementary students so that they are able to continue learning through the E-learning program that Parker has implemented during the closure of its school due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo/Sarah Ebeling)

Sarah Ebeling | Managing Editor

From closed schools across the state to limited access in many area businesses, the COVID-19 crisis is continuing to spread across the state. 

On Friday, March 13, Governor Kristi Noem asked for the closure of all South Dakota schools. Because of that, on Friday, Parker Superintendent Donavan DeBoer announced that as of Monday, March 16, Parker would be closed for the entire week. 

As of Monday, March 16, DeBoer said that the school has a plan in place moving forward. As far as educating kids, the school got to work last Friday implementing an e-learning plan that would allow both students and teachers to keep working together. 

He said he believes that this is a horrible situation but the e-learning will be a positive thing that comes out of this. 

“With every storm there is a rainbow. Our teachers are going to grow as educators,” DeBoer said. 

“When we need something to happen, it just happens. Look at what we have done since noon on Friday. We have built an e-learning platform in a two hour in-service, a couple of days on their (teachers) own time and a 90 minute video conference that we put together to model what it could look like to students,” he continued. 

DeBoer said that he is proud of the unity and guidance. 

“The overall care that we have for our community — and this overall we can do it, we can tackle it and we know we will get better over time,” he said. 

As DeBoer looks for guidance from the Governor’s office he said he can’t say enough about not only the teachers and the community but also the custodians. 

“Our community has been unbelievable. And the trust the school board has shown in me as the leader of the school has allowed me to make really good decisions for the district. And our custodians, they need prayers and to be lifted up. Who is more important than them,” said DeBoer. 

As for more missed school days and making them up, DeBoer said that the Department of Education is giving guidance when it comes to whether or not they need to make up missed days. But, he said, it is a local decision and as far as this week goes, Parker is not going to be making this lost week up unless they are instructed differently

DeBoer said that through this all, besides academics, his top priority is graduating this year’s seniors.
“When it comes to graduation, these kids have been looking forward to this day for 18 years. It’s a big day and when it comes to rescheduling, that’s my number one,” he said passionately. 

All events for the district are currently postponed or cancelled. 

“Because we don’t know the future. This thing changes every couple of hours,” he said. 

But, for DeBoer, number two for him is prom. 

He said, “If we can get it in, that is my next goal as far as activities are concerned.” 

DeBoer said he doesn’t know what the future holds with all of this, but he doesn’t care if they have to celebrate graduation in December or have two graduations next spring. 

“This year’s seniors will get to walk across the stage. They are going to get their diploma handed to them and I will be switching that tassel like I have for the other groups the last five years. They deserve it,” he exclaimed. 

Also on Monday, Noem addressed the public at a live briefing at 2 p.m., telling the public that although numbers are encouraging as they have not grown, she is worried that things could get worse before they get better. 

She noted that as of Monday, 500 people had been tested with 10 testing positive for COVID-19, telling the public that this is very serious and people need to be taking it very seriously. 

Although there is not a national curfew or quarantine in place in South Dakota, all schools are closed this week and Noem said that after getting recommendations from the Center for Disease Control, (CDC), they will make a decision as to what the districts should do moving forward. 

Locally, the Turner County Courthouse and Parker City Hall is closed to the public this week. 

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