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Election Health

South Dakota governor: ‘Our kids need to be in school’

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South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem (R) is one of the least restrictive governors in the U.S. when it comes to the coronavirus. She never issued any stay-at-home orders and has been very much against the government mandating what citizens can and cannot do. Now Noem is standing firm on students in her state returning to school in the fall.

“The science is clear, our kids need to be in school,” Noem said Wednesday during an interview with Fox News. “It’s better for them.”

Noem said that the U.S. should be concerned with the lack of education students are receiving while trying to learn from home or through online classes.

“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 said.

A lack of education isn’t the only issue with schools being closed. Another major concern with keeping students out of schools across the country is the number of students that don’t have the best family environment. Whether that’s coming from a home where parents aren’t as involved as they should be or coming from a family in poverty. A large percentage of students and their families rely on public schools for free and reduced meals.

“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,” Noem said. “Those are the kids that are getting hurt the most. In South Dakota, in some districts, it’s up to 30 percent of the children.”

The governor said she wants the kids back in school where teachers and staff can make sure they are getting proper care.

“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 added.

Noem also announced that South Dakota students will not be required to wear masks in the classroom when they return.

“As far as masks, I’m not mandating any masks at the state level. It certainly would be challenging for a child to keep a mask on for seven, eight hours a day. Children are constantly touching their masks, taking it off and dropping it on the floor,” she said. “Those all increase rates of infection.”

Noem says every school district will approach returning in a different way and that parents will have the final say in whether their child wears a mask. She said regardless, schools in her state will provide a safe environment.

“We’ll take good care of them,” she said.

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