Nov. 11-17 is American Education Week
American Education Week is coming up this month. This special week recognizes the contributions of the various people who make up the public education system, from teachers to food service workers and counselors to bus drivers, and everyone in between. Thanks for all you do to make sure our state’s children are receiving the best education!

New DOE directors in place
Colleen O’Neil recently began as director of the department’s Division of Curriculum and Career and Technical Education, and Ann Larsen took over as the new director of the Division of Educational Services and Support. A recent transplant from Greeley, Colo., Colleen is a lifelong educator, having served in numerous positions, including teacher, chief learning officer, assistant principal and chief human resource officer. Ann has been with the department for more than 10 years, most recently serving as special education director.

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Whooping cough cases rise; parents urged to immunize kids

State health officials are seeing an increase in the number of whooping cough cases and urging people to make sure children are immunized.

Nationally, 48 states and Washington, D.C., have reported increases in whooping cough, also known as pertussis, through September. In South Dakota, cases are up 87 percent over the five-year median, with 56 cases reported as of Oct. 3. Most of those cases are in school-age children and result from an outbreak in a school setting. Neighboring Minnesota has reported nearly 4,000 pertussis cases, the most since 1943, while Iowa has reported more than 1,100 cases so far this year.

The state Department of Health provides free vaccine to protect children against pertussis. The vaccine the state provides is T-dap, which also includes tetanus and diphtheria, with doses recommended at 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, 15-18 months, and 4-6 years. Children need the complete series to be fully protected. A booster dose is also recommended at 11-12 years as immunity begins to wane. The department provides that booster dose free as well, although some providers may charge an administration fee.

The booster dose protects middle school students from the disease and increases the ring of protection around vulnerable infants. Because whooping cough is highly contagious and spreads easily in school settings, immunizing the older age group also helps decrease the likelihood of outbreaks. Schools can schedule clinics to offer the whooping cough vaccine along with the seasonal flu vaccine.

Find more information on the Department of Health’s website.