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  1. Most South Dakota school officials are planning for in-person teaching in fall 2021 and expect that masks and vaccinations against COVID-19 will be optional for students, faculty and staff. But they are keeping a close eye, and an open mind, in regard to outbreaks of COVID-19 and its variants that could prompt changes to safety protocols in schools.
  2. Only half of South Dakota school districts offer formal summer school programs, and some of those that do are seeing increased enrollments as educators and parents seek to help students who fell behind during the COVID-19 pandemic catch up or stay on track with their education. Some experts worry that students who faced upheaval in learning during the pandemic may fall further behind their peers and could be unable to catch up.
  3. South Dakota saw a high number of suicides in early 2021, leading prevention experts to worry that a major health-care crisis may be emerging in the state, with young adults, health-care workers and school-age children most at risk of serious consequences and possibly death.
  4. A treatment method that uses medications to reduce cravings for people addicted to opioids is being used more frequently to prevent overdoses and save lives in South Dakota, but addiction experts and law enforcement leaders are trying to reduce barriers that prevent wider use across the state.
  5. South Dakota saw a big drop in available spots for children at daycare centers and in-home providers during the pandemic, putting financial pressure and emotional stress on parents who need child care in order to work.
  6. Businesses across South Dakota are struggling to find employees as the pool of available workers has fallen since the COVID-19 pandemic. While the labor shortage could force employers to raise wages and benefits, it could also slow the state's economic growth and upend the opportunity for a post-pandemic surge in the state economy.
  7. A slowdown in production of new cars during the COVID-19 pandemic has put great pressure on the used car market, leading to low used car inventories and skyrocketing prices. Meanwhile, heightened demand for cars among consumers, many flush with pandemic relief money or tax return funds, has led to a hot used car market rarely if ever seen in South Dakota.
  8. South Dakota State University student journalist Andrew Rasmussen, a native of Brookings, has been selected as the inaugural recipient of the "Jeffrey B. Nelson Investigative Journalism Endowed Internship," a new internship launched by South Dakota News Watch and SDSU. The program will provide Rasmussen with real-world experience as a full-time journalist for News Watch over summer 2021.
  9. Two prominent economists from South Dakota say that eliminating the state sales tax on food purchases could benefit low-income families that already struggle to meet basic needs. South Dakota is one of only three states that charges the full state sales tax on grocery purchases; meanwhile, legislative efforts to reduce or eliminate the sales tax on food have consistently failed.
  10. As the vaccination rate of adults against COVID-19 has stalled in South Dakota, medical experts say more children and young adults must get vaccinated in order to reach herd immunity in the state. Getting children and young adults vaccinated will also protect them from potentially devastating long-term health effects from the coronavirus, experts say.
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