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  1. Only one bill has been filed so far regarding regulation of medical and recreational marijuana in South Dakota, both of which become legal on July 1, and lawmakers have a long way to go in creating a solid regulatory framework for legal weed. Meanwhile, entrepreneurs are not waiting for the Legislature or courts to act and are making plans to monetize marijuana as soon as it becomes legal.
  2. One positive outcome of the COVID-19 pandemic is that more Native Americans living on South Dakota Indian reservations have begun the process to purchase a home, though long-standing barriers remain on reservations to achieving the financial security and family stability that homeownership can provide.
  3. In what has been a busy year due to deaths caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, funeral home directors in South Dakota have had to work longer and harder, endure greater stress than usual and adapt to new ways of helping people grieve for loved-ones they have lost.
  4. From bird-watching to boating, from hiking to hunting, more South Dakotans flocked to outdoor activities as a result of pandemic safety precautions that shut down many indoor activities. Many businesses and state wildlife conservation coffers saw a big financial benefit along the way.
  5. South Dakota News Watch sponsored a virtual town hall on higher education on Dec. 7; top experts in education shared views on a number of topics, including ways to reduce barriers to a college degree.
  6. Oglala Lakota College in southwestern South Dakota was able to keep its students and staff safe while also benefitting from federal aid that allowed for a vast expansion of computer and internet access for its students.
  7. Students now attending South Dakota colleges have had to adjust to a new normal and persevere during a time of unprecedented changes to higher education during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
  8. The gap in educational achievement and access to higher education has grown worse during the COVID-19 pandemic as fewer low-income and minority students will be able to afford or be ready to attend college.
  9. The COVID-19 pandemic created a major interruption for colleges and universities across South Dakota and the nation, causing changes in how instruction was delivered, how students learned and resulting in enrollment and revenue declines for schools both public and private, large and small. Yet the pandemic only exacerbated long-range challenges already faced by the American higher education system. In a four-part special report, South Dakota News Watch takes an in-depth look at where higher education stands now and what the future might look like.
  10. With COVID-19 vaccine approval at hand, experts say the rural nature of South Dakota, the state's limited capability to store and distribute the vaccine and reluctance by some residents to take the vaccine could slow the delivery and reduce the effectiveness of the vaccines.
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