The right-wing extremists Rapid City voters elected to their school board this summer are showing their political pro-pandemic disregard for facts and duty.
At Monday’s meeting, the Rapid City school board said it will get rid of all coronavirus mitigation measures because we just need to move on and because coronavirus isn’t sending anyone in the schools to the hospital or the morgue:
Board representative Gabe Doney said the current plan is untrustworthy, and that RCAS families don’t trust the school district after the events of 2020. The new board members need to be trusted, Doney said, which is why they needed to act on the plan.
“We are not going to move forward as a community, as a state, as a nation, if we don’t move on. Our kids are going through terrible emotional stress from wearing masks,” Doney said. “I get it, there’s a virus out there. I’m not saying it’s not real. But there’s nothing in this past year that has proven to me that any one of our kids or teachers who got COVID were in the hospital, let alone died. Let’s move forward” [Abby Wargo, “Rapid City Board of Education Plans to Scrap All Covid Mitigation Measures for 2021–22 School Year,” Rapid City Journal, 2021.08.10].
That statement is false:
According to RCAS Community Relations Manager Katy Urban, multiple staff members were hospitalized due to COVID-19 last year [Wargo, 2021.08.10].
Board president Kate Thomas, in her sixth year of undermining public schools from her board position and now backed by June’s pandemic-deniers caucus, declared that our public schools have no duty to protect public health:
“There should be no quarantine. Just like with the flu, if you’re sick, stay home,” she said to applause from the crowd amassed for the public comment portion of the meeting.
Thomas also said the school district shouldn’t be performing contact tracing, as that is the state health department’s job, and that the school should not provide RT-PCR tests for COVID because they aren’t accurate.
“It is not our job as a public education forum to be in charge of health care [for] any of these kids or our staff. It is up to them, and that’s what health care privacy means,” she said [Wargo, 2021.08.10].
What, if a kid falls off the swings at recess and cracks her skull, the teachers are supposed to stand back and not administer first aid, for fear of intruding on the child’s privacy?
Thomas must be angling to eliminate Rapid City’s nine school nurses and two coordinators, who are in charge of “promoting health and wellness in a safe supportive environment” to make sure “All students will be healthy, safe, and ready to learn.” Rapid City’s school nurses develop health care plans, administer medications, coordinate health screenings, educate students and staff, assess and monitor communicable diseases, and enforce state law and district policies on student immunizations.
The mission of public education is inextricably bound to the mission of health care:
A student’s health is directly related to his or her ability to learn. Children with unmet health needs have a difficult time engaging in the educational process. The school nurse supports student success by providing health care through assessment, intervention, and follow-up for all children within the school setting. The school nurse addresses the physical, mental, emotional, and social health needs of students and supports their achievement in the learning process [National Association of School Nurses, “The Role of the 21st Century School Nurse,” retrieved 2021.08.11].
Maybe Thomas, Daney, and their wrecking crew find school health services superfluous, if not tyrannical, but state law does not. Recognizing the connection between education and health, South Dakota requires every school district to provide school health services:
A public school system shall provide school health services coordinated by a registered nurse, whose services may be shared by one or more school systems. The services shall include assessment and implementation of services for students with special needs, administration of medications, and performance of specialized health care procedures.
The registered nurse is responsible for the training and supervision of any school employee to whom provision of any of the services listed in this section is delegated [SDCL 13-33A-1, enacted 1993].
School board presidents should understand the law and the duties of their school districts. But that’s not what Rapid City voters want.
It’s hard to tell what’s worse: the irresponsible numbskullery Rapid City’s new school board members are spewing from the dais or the destructive hordes filling the seats at board meetings to applaud such contrastatutory numbskullery. Rapid City’s school board is showing the stupidity that arises when we don’t pay attention to local elections.