South Dakota News Watch

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Experts express optimism on future of small towns during virtual town hall discussion


Editor’s note: This story is part of a series of articles by South Dakota News Watch called, “Small Towns, Big Challenges” that is examining small towns from a historical perspective and looking forward through the lens of the COVID-19 pandemic. Optimism for the future of South Dakota’s small towns — and resilience in overcoming obstacles to stability and growth — […]

Pandemic threatens fragile rural health-care system in South Dakota

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Editor’s note: This article is the second of three parts of a special report by South Dakota News Watch called “Small Towns, Big Challenges.” See the entire series at sdnewswatch.org. The COVID-19 pandemic has placed a significant and unexpected financial burden on rural health-care providers who were already struggling to maintain hospitals and clinics that help keep small-town residents — […]

Cancellation of festivals costing S.D. communities money and momentum


The COVID-19 pandemic has led to the cancellation of dozens of fairs, festivals and other events in South Dakota in 2020 that typically provide a significant revenue boost and foster community cohesiveness in cities and counties across the state. As of early June, nearly four dozen community events, many of them multi-day affairs, were cancelled and not rescheduled, according to […]

Grain bin accidents and deaths rising due to poor crop conditions


Wet and cold weather in 2019 have created a dangerous situation this year for South Dakota farmers who store grain in bins, heightening a risk of entrapment or death that has existed on farms for generations. The number of reported grain entrapments across the country rose by 27% from 2018 to 2019, and deaths rose by 53% that year. South […]

Beyond the checkpoints: How a S.D. Native American tribe is protecting its people from COVID-19

FREE Checkpoint controversy overshadows SD tribe's life-saving efforts

Editor’s note: This article was produced with support from the Solutions Journalism Network, a national non-profit group that supports rigorous journalism about responses to problems. The Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe in north-central South Dakota has received extensive state and national press coverage in recent days after Gov. Kristi Noem threatened legal action if the tribe did not dismantle highway checkpoints […]

S.D. colleges face vast logistical and financial unknowns heading into next academic year

Higher education in South Dakota challenged by pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has already changed the way colleges and universities are teaching students, forcing a move this spring and summer away from in-person classroom learning to remote education. Moving forward, the virus and the unknowns surrounding it have the potential to fundamentally alter the short-term and long-range future of higher education in South Dakota and across the country. The […]

S.D. communities rally to launch weekly newspaper with volunteer labor


A group of business leaders and volunteers with almost no journalism training or experience has banded together to launch a local weekly newspaper in Kingsbury County, S.D., where two weekly papers were closed on April 1 due in part to the COVID-19 pandemic. Armed only with an untested business model and promises of help from unpaid volunteers — but steeled […]

South Dakota’s uncounted unemployed workers taking brunt of COVID-19 hardships


Stacey Twiggs is one of the “uncounted” unemployed people in South Dakota. Twiggs, 35, is a massage therapist from Black Hawk who has seen COVID-19 turn her life upside down. She hasn’t gotten sick, but the pandemic has destroyed her once-thriving business, forced her to live off credit cards and put her in fear of becoming homeless. And yet, Twiggs […]

Regulation gaps and missed opportunities allowed COVID-19 to spread freely in U.S. meatpacking plants

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The COVID-19 pandemic has overwhelmed the U.S. meatpacking industry, but public health experts say the risks posed to workers and the U.S. food supply chain by airborne viral infections were readily apparent and could have been addressed years ago. Ongoing virus outbreaks could have been avoided, and future illnesses eliminated, if major meatpacking plants had implemented disease-control measures recommended by […]

S.D. students suffering loss of learning during school closures

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Millions of American schoolchildren, including tens of thousands in South Dakota, are suffering a loss of learning and reduced exposure to instructional rigor now that schools across the country have closed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite the best efforts of administrators, teachers and parents to engage in remote learning with students, the mass closures of school buildings across the […]


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