The Garretson School District is committed to making the educational experience of our students the best it can be.  This plan will serve as a guide for decision making as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to play out in the 2023-2024 school year.  The district reserves the right to modify the guide or recommendations based on local conditions as they change.  Priorities in the district continue to be student and staff safety as well as providing the best possible educational experience for our students.  We have considered and will continue to consider recommendations from the CDC, the SD Medical Association, the SD Department of Education, the SD Department of Health and other organizations in preparation of this plan.  Accommodations to health and safety policies will be made on an individual basis to ensure all students including students with disabilities have access to instruction and district services.

Risk Levels:

The plan is organized around and based on the science surrounding COVID-19.  The plan may be modified or changed as the knowledge base surrounding this virus continues to grow.  As new variants are discovered and the pandemic changes over time, the plan may need to be modified based on current conditions within the school district, the region and the state of SD.   

The plan outlines three levels of risk for infection and transmission of COVID-19 for students and staff.

Green: Low risk of infection and transmission.

Yellow: Moderate risk of infection and transmission

Red: High risk of infection and transmission

Instructional Format:

Our intent is to offer face-to-face learning in the schoolhouse for the 2023-2024 school year.  While some aspects of the learning may look slightly different, all classes will be held in-person, with attendance required for all students.

Opting for Distance Ed

The District will not be offering a long-term distance learning option to our students in the 2023-2024 school year.  Families that do not wish to send their children to school must submit the appropriate “exemption from public education” materials to the Department of Education prior to the start of the school year.


The Garretson School District recommends that all students, staff and parents get vaccinated for COVID-19.  The district does not intend to require vaccination as a condition of attendance in school.

Physical Distancing and PPE use

The CDC recommends keeping 3 feet of distance between individuals in the school setting.  The CDC recommends use of masks for all people above the age of two years who have not been vaccinated.  The Garretson School District recommends that all unvaccinated students use appropriate face coverings while attending school.

Regardless of the “level,” all staff and students should follow the CDC’s recommendations that everyone wash hands frequently and thoroughly, and also practice good respiratory etiquette (cover all coughs and sneezes).  After coughing or sneezing, it is recommended that the person also wash hands thoroughly.

Students in Headstart / preschool will be required to comply with all federal directives related to the use of face coverings and other mitigation measures.

Green: The use of face coverings is optional for both vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals.  In settings where 3 feet of distance is not possible, masks are strongly recommended.

Yellow: The use of face coverings are recommended for all students and staff, and strongly recommended for individuals who have not been vaccinated.

Red:  The use of face coverings is required for all students and staff, regardless of vaccination status.

Health Screenings.

Parents should screen their children’s health every day before sending the children to school or on the bus.  Parental health screening should include asking children if they are experiencing any of the signs or symptoms of COVID-19.  Individuals with a temperature of 100.4 degrees or higher, without fever reducing medication, should not be present in school.

District personnel may conduct temperature checks at school throughout the day.

Staff are responsible for assessing their own symptoms and should not attend school if they are showing symptoms or an elevated temperature.

If a student or staff member has COVID-19 symptoms, the individual is directed to visit their health care provider and follow all instructions from them.  Anyone with a positive COVID-19 test must quarantine for a minimum of five days, and must be symptom and fever-free, without fever-reducing medication, for a minimum of 24 hours before returning to school.  Students and staff who exhibit symptoms of COVID-19, but do not have a positive test may not return to school until symptom and fever free for 24 hours (without fever reducing medication).

The Garretson School District will not be conducting screening at the school, but will support testing done in conjunction with the SD Department of Health or medical providers.

Contract Tracing:

The district will not expend resources on contact tracing.  The SD Department of Health has the statutory authority and responsibility for contact tracing and quarantine directives.    The Garretson School District will cooperate and coordinate with the SD Department of Health.


Face coverings are strongly recommended on all school transportation.  However, students and staff who have been vaccinated do not need face coverings.

Seats will be sanitized daily.

Arrival at School / Start of the school day

Elementary students:  Students may enter the building through the West Gym Entrance or the Main school entrance.  Parents are reminded that students should not come to school until after 8:00.  Students who wish to have breakfast may proceed to the commons.  Students in grades k-3 will proceed to the playground until staff bring them into the building.  Students in grades 4 and 5 should proceed to the old gym.

Middle School and High School students:  Students should not arrive in the building prior to 8:00 AM unless they are here for a specific program.  Students may enter the building using the Main entrance, Locker Room entrance or the building’s Northeast high school entrance.  Students who wish to participate in the Breakfast program may proceed to the commons for breakfast.  All breakfast items must be consumed in the commons.  Students may not bring breakfast items into the MS/HS hallways or classrooms.  Students will not be permitted to “hang out” in the commons, locker rooms or any other area.  Students not participating in Breakfast should proceed to their first class.

Classroom Seating and Materials:

Physical Distancing measures will be in place in each classroom.  In classrooms where a 3’ distance cannot be maintained, face coverings / masks are recommended for those students or staff who have not been vaccinated.

Specials / Elective Coursework

Music classes may be held in an alternate location in order to encourage appropriate distancing of students.  Students who have not been vaccinated are encouraged to wear a face covering in vocal music and instrumental music classes.  Further mitigation strategies may be employed if the district moves to a “yellow,” or “red” status.


Students in grades k-1 will have intermittent access to technology devices throughout the day.  Students in grades 2-12 will have access daily access to their assigned iPad.  Students in grades 6-12 may take their device home, while students in grades 2-5 will leave their device at school. Students will be encouraged to clean their device regularly, following instructions from the technology director.

Breakfast and Lunch

Green / yellow:  Breakfast and lunch will be served in the commons / lunchroom area.  Additional sanitation measures will be taken between groups.  Some food items may be limited.

Red:  Breakfast and lunch will be served in the commons, lunchroom and supplemental seating area in order to encourage appropriate distancing.  Masks are required for all students and staff when not eating.

End of the School day

Students are encouraged to leave the building directly after the school day ends.  HS/MS students will not be allowed to loiter on school grounds after school.

Water Fountains

All students and staff are encouraged to bring a water bottle and use bottle fillers.  Drinking fountains will be functional for the 23-24 school year.

Sanitizer stations

Sanitizer stations will be placed in each classroom near the entrance/exit.  Students will be encouraged to use hand sanitizer whenever entering or exiting the classroom.

Large Group Gatherings:

Green / Yellow: At the elementary level assemblies and large group gatherings are discouraged.  When assemblies or large group gatherings are necessary, students are strongly encouraged to wear a face covering when in attendance at large group gatherings or assemblies.

At the MS/HS level, students who have not been vaccinated are strongly encouraged to wear an appropriate face covering when in attendance at the assembly.

Red: Large group assemblies and large group gatherings will be limited, with appropriate distancing.


Standards based grading will be used in grades k-5.  Standard grading procedures will continue to be used in grades 6-12

Staff Attendance:

Staff are expected to attend school, as normal.

School Activities:

Students who participate in interscholastic activities are strongly encouraged to get vaccinated.

The school will comply with directives from the SDHSAA with respect to students who become ill and their safe return to play.

The school district reserves the right to make restrictions on crowd size, or, as necessary postpone or cancel events based on seven or fourteen day trend data made available from the SD Department of Health, active and new case levels, hospitalizations and other relevant data and guidance from local, county and state officials.

All individuals will be responsible for their own safety while in attendance at school events and are encouraged to follow appropriate distancing protocols and use an appropriate face covering.    

Use of School Facilities by Non-School Groups:

School facilities will be open to use by non-school groups.  All groups who use the school will be responsible for appropriate measures to ensure that unvaccinated attendees are aware of the expectation to keep themselves safe through appropriate distancing or wearing a face covering.  All groups who use school facilities are responsible for providing and using appropriate sanitization techniques when finished with the facility.

Decisions to restrict the use of school facilities by outside groups will be made by the superintendent based on 7 and 14 day trend data from the SD Department of Health, active and new case levels, hospitalizations and other relevant data and guidance from local, county and state officials.

Student and Staff Social, Emotional and Mental Health:

The Garretson School District has put in place a number of supports for students for the 23-24 school year.  The district trained all staff in the Masonic Model of Student Support Teams, and has implemented the support teams k-12.  Additionally, new programming at the 6-12 level includes the REACH program, which is intended to offer mental health, social and academic support to students who may need it.

Staff who are experiencing needs related to social, emotional or mental health should contact the school’s Employee Assistance Program (EAP): (888)293-6948.  For questions about the program, please contact Business Manager Jacob Schweitzer.

The Board approved this plan at a special meeting on May 26, 2022, granting the administration the flexibility to modify the plan as necessary based on local conditions within the District.  An opportunity for public commentary was provided during the meeting.