Many teachers are on their own when adding safety barriers in classrooms

By Bart Pfankuch

South Dakota public school teachers are largely on their own when it comes to building and installing protective barriers for their classrooms that may reduce the spread of the coronavirus among their students and themselves.
With no statewide policy in place and little or no guidance from individual school districts, thousands of teachers across the state have had to use their own time, money and ingenuity to get barriers or partitions in place before students return to the classroom in late August or early September.
In a school year laden with uncertainty due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the question of whether physical barriers will be in place in school classrooms – and how they should be built, installed or paid for – has generally not been addressed in back-to-school plans approved by each district. While most districts provided direction on whether mask use would be required and many reconfigured classroom spaces to meet social distancing guidelines, barrier use was left out of most planning discussions.

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