Confident South Dakota governor shares her plan: Children will ‘definitely be in the classroom’ this fall

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Governor Kristi Noem is confident that South Dakota children will “definitely” be in classrooms this fall.

The Republican lawmaker unveiled a plan to get students back to in-person education by reopening schools as the nation continues to debate the topic amid concerns over the coronavirus pandemic. Noem spoke with Fox News Channel’s “Fox & Friends” on Wednesday about how children need to get back into classrooms.


(Source: Fox News)

“Well, the science is clear, our kids need to be in school. It’s better for them,” the governor said. “We’ve got a lot of kids that haven’t checked in since this virus hit. It’s really our most vulnerable population that needs to be back in those classrooms.”

A plan to provide $47 million in funding to schools was announced by Noem on Tuesday in an effort to help with reopening. The governor addressed concerns at a press conference in which she predicted that South Dakota will “continue to see increased positive cases” of the virus but that they needed “to make good decisions to help us get through it in the best way possible.”

Asked when a decision would be made about the reopening of schools, Noem told “Fox & Friends” that students in her state will “definitely” be in actual classrooms in this upcoming school year.

“Well, for us, our kids are going back to school on time,” she said.

“Definitely?” co-host Ainsley Earhardt pressed.

“Definitely. They will definitely be in the classroom,” the GOP leader said.

“We have proven that distance learning is not as effective as being in the classroom. We think that kids have only achieved about 70 percent of the learning that they could have, had they been in school,” she added.

“And then also, we have a lot of kids that don’t have a stable home environment. They don’t have parents that are really being responsible to make sure that they’re learning. Those are the kids that are getting hurt the most. And in South Dakota, in some districts, it’s up to 30 percent of the children,” Noem continued.

“So they need to be there in the classroom where these teachers and administrators can see how they are doing, look at them, give them a hot meal, make sure that we’re taking care of them and then make sure that every single child at this important time in their life that they have the opportunity to learn so they can be successful for the rest of their life,” she said.

“How are you dealing with the teachers?” co-host Steve Doocy asked, noting the vulnerability for some who are older or have conditions that put them at risk.

“Well, we have fantastic teachers in South Dakota. And two-thirds of them aren’t in the vulnerable population,” Noem explained. “And so we’re asking them to go back. And they really have a mission in their hearts to take care of these kids, so they’re anxious to get back in the classroom, too.”

The governor pointed out that there are “accommodations that can be made” for those who are older or have underlying conditions in their health. She also contended that the transmission rate of COVID-19 between children “is very, very low” and that it is “safer for our kids to be in classrooms for these teachers than being in Walmart, than being in a pharmacy or a grocery store.”

“This is going to be an environment that will be something that they can learn, they can be safe, and we’ll take good care of them,” she promised.

South Dakota children will not be required to wear protective face masks in the classroom, Noem noted, pointing out the challenges that would be faced if the state implemented such a rule.

“As far as masks, I’m not mandating any masks at the state level,” she said. “It certainly would be challenging for a child to keep a mask on for seven, eight hours a day.”

“Those all increase rates of infection,” Noem said, after mentioning how children are “constantly touching” their masks, “taking it off” and “dropping it on the floor.”

“I think that every school district is approaching it differently and telling parents if your children want to wear masks they can, but we are not going to make them,” she added.

“I met with a bunch of parents yesterday and it was interesting to me because they were parents of diverse backgrounds, different employment, different careers. Every one of them said I have no idea how my children would ever keep a mask on all day,” Noem told the Fox News co-hosts.

The governor added that members of the teachers union in South Dakota “are giving different perspectives” as well and that parents she has spoken to have indicated that they want their children in school.

“They recognize that they’re falling behind,” Noem said. “And it didn’t matter on the income levels. Whether they were people that didn’t have many resources or people who had a lot, they all recognized that our children were falling behind and they needed them to be with their teachers who have the expertise to help them reach the highest level of their potential.”

Frieda Powers

Senior Staff Writer
[email protected]

Originally from New York, Powers graduated from New York University and eventually made her way to sunny South Florida where she has been writing for the BizPacReview team since 2015.
Frieda Powers

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