Welcome back to campus! I hope your first week of classes went well and you are finding your fit at USD. Each one of you plays an important role in our community, and that has never been more true than it is today.
As you are aware, USD has developed a new dashboard to track self-reported, active cases of COVID-19 on USD’s campus. As of 8/27, USD has 129 active student cases, 4 active faculty/staff cases and 493 students in isolation or quarantine. At this point, we are still well equipped to manage the quarantine and isolation needs of the university and take care of the health and safety of our students. However, we need your continued diligence to flatten the curve.
I know this semester has brought unprecedented challenges. It is a normal part of the college experience to expand your social circles, have adventures and create unforgettable memories. I still want all of these things for you, and believe it’s still possible to experience these core aspects of college life. However, amid a global pandemic, we want you to do them safely, by physical distancing, wearing a face covering and taking care to avoid gathering in places that may expose you to sick people.
I’m proud of Vermillion’s many businesses that are participating in the “Commitment to ReVive Vermillion” initiative. I thank those business leaders for practicing key safety measures that will help keep our community healthy during these uncertain times. This commitment is a pledge to ensure physical distancing, offer transparency in operations, increase sanitation protocols and require face coverings indoors.
The majority of businesses are doing a wonderful job, and I thank them for doing their part to #ProtectThePack. Given our recent rise in positive cases, I believe it is prudent to avoid frequenting any downtown establishment that has not committed to changing their business operations to keep our community safe. Join me in thanking the businesses that are prioritizing the safety of our community by supporting them with your business. You can find the list of businesses participating in “ReVive Vermillion” on the Vermillion Chamber & Development Corporation website. When you go out around town, look for businesses that have a sign near their entrance that says "Masks Expected by City Resolution." All establishments open to the public must display this sign. If you do not see this sign or one that has very similar language, this is an establishment that may not be following City regulations, or appropriate social distancing and mask protocols may not be in place. In short, businesses that don't post signage about masks might not be safe to visit.
I am confident we can continue to have a fun and successful fall semester. But to do this, we must all work together. I thank everyone for doing their part to slow the spread.
Sheila K. Gestring
University of South Dakota