Yankton Press & Dakotan. May 24, 2021.

Editorial: YSD Makes It To The Finish Line

When the Yankton School District ended its 2020-2021 school year last Thursday afternoon, it felt like a major milestone. And perhaps it was.

The district made it through nine months of the COVID-19 pandemic — including what has proven so far to be the worst two months of the crisis last fall — without having to close down the schools and shift to online learning. Given that the pandemic wiped out the entire fourth quarter of the last school year and online learning remained an option for students for the 2020-21 term, making it to the finish line was really an accomplishment.

This was noted in a special school board meeting held at noon last Thursday to discuss, among other things, the district’s masking policy. This also happened to be the last day of school, and board Chairperson Sarah Carda mentioned that the district had made it that far with only a couple of hours to go before classes dismissed for the summer. That remark seemed telling, reflecting the touch-and-go aspect of the school’s scheduling at times this past year.

From the outside looking in, it appears the school district did a good job in dealing with the pandemic. In particular, the masking mandate that was in place for school facilities likely played a huge factor in seeing the district through the year relatively unscathed. Also, the voucher system for activities, which was a point of contention with some people at times, seemed to do what it was designed to do.

The district’s decision last week to alter the masking policy for indoors during the summer months aligns it with the recent change in Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines. School facilities are still busy places in the summer months, and those who are vaccinated will have the freedom to go without masking.

How it works this summer will tell the school board a lot about how it will proceed in the fall. Being vaccinated will make a big difference, and hopefully, people are up front about it and understand its importance.

But for this moment, the school year is done and Yankton made it through. There were lessons learned with every step of this unprecedented situation, and they should serve the district well in the future.