Skip to main content

We understand many of you have questions, and we are working to identify solutions and respond to you as quickly as possible. Below are commonly asked questions that we hope provide clarity to some of your recent questions.

Please rest assured that we are taking your concerns incredibly seriously. We understand your frustrations and are rapidly working to make decisions that are in the best interest of our students, faculty and staff at a system-wide level. Thank you for your patience as we work together through this unprecedented and difficult time.

What language is required in course syllabi?

Required Course Syllabus Policies and COVID-19 Syllabus Polices can be found in the USD Portal in the Academic Affairs tab in the Faculty Resources section.

How should I hold office hours this year?

Faculty should hold in-person office hours only if it can be done safely and with appropriate physical distancing. No faculty member HAS to hold in-person office hours. The important thing is to keep meeting with students, either in-person or virtually.

How will the library work for me and my students this fall?

ID Weeks library has developed a comprehensive reopening plan that will be updated as needed.

How will my students and I know where they can sit in classrooms?

Every classroom has been reconfigured for social distancing, and Facilities Management has identified where each student will sit with a taped “X.” In open classrooms with desk chairs, the “X” will be on the floor. In classrooms with tables, the “X” is on the table top. In lecture halls, the “X” is generally on each seatback. Facilities Management will regularly check classrooms to replace any tape that has been dislodged.

How should faculty take attendance?

Faculty should develop whatever method works best for the specific way that they have constructed their course. No one method will work equally well for everyone. That being said, Academic Affairs has developed seating charts for USD’s 78 centrally scheduled classrooms and is asking faculty to use them. These seating charts are useful not only for attendance but also in assisting the SD Department of Health with contact tracing should a student in your class test positive for COVID-19. Seating charts can be downloaded on the portal under Academics tab, Academic Affairs, Faculty Resources, COVID Classroom Seating Charts.

Can a professor post a class seating chart on D2L to remind students where they should be sitting? Are there any FERPA issues created by doing so?

Yes, seating charts may be posted with student names within D2L, even for students who have indicated “no release” for their directory information, because FERPA does not allow students to be anonymous in the classroom setting. As long as no ID numbers are being displayed, there are no FERPA issues.

Is six-foot physical distancing standard for classrooms? I see tables and chairs that look closer together than that.

We have made every effort to place student seating six feet apart. However, there are some classroom configurations where furniture (generally tables) or the physical layout of the classroom (generally tiered classrooms) requires students to sit slightly closer together.

Will whiteboards be available in the non-traditional classrooms that we’re using this fall?

There are three non-traditional classrooms that have been pressed into service this fall: Aalfs Auditorium, Farber Hall, and the Neuharth Conference Room. Aalfs is too large for whiteboards, Neuharth doesn’t have enough room to use both whiteboards and the projection screen, and Farber Hall is used in so many ways that having a whiteboard on the stage would be problematic. Instead, IT will be installing Smart Podiums (pen-enabled monitors) in these three spaces. This will allow instructors to write on the monitor using the Zoom whiteboard or just screen share and annotate over their presentation. They can also take advantage of the enhanced capabilities provided by the installed SMART Notebook software. IT is also looking into the possibility of adding document cameras to these spaces

Will tech fellows (or other support) be available to provide assistance with broadcasting/recording lectures via Zoom and in which rooms?

Tech fellows will be available on a limited basis, as they will be providing full-time support for non-standard technology setups in Aalfs Auditorium, Neuharth Conference Room, and Farber Hall. For the remaining classrooms, the Center for Teaching and Learning has developed a comprehensive guide to using both the video streaming technology that’s been added to our classrooms as well as the portable video streaming kits that can be check out from the ITS Helpdesk. That guide will be regularly updated.

I’m teaching a hybrid course. Given the requirements that 25% percent of the course experience must occur face-to-face, are faculty able to determine all other course design decisions, e.g., whether other activities occur synchronously or asynchronously, whether students participate remotely via Zoom or another method, etc.?

Yes, faculty control all aspects of the course as long as the Board of Regents-mandated requirement that 25% percent of the course experience must occur face-to-face is met.

If faculty choose to conduct extensive “flipped classroom” techniques, will there be specific training sessions devoted to this?

CTL will have some training in this area but will focus primarily on basic instruction in hybrid and online techniques.

Can we assume that all students will be able to participate synchronously at the scheduled class time?

Yes, that is the expectation. Please reinforce that to your students as classes begin.

Will faculty be able to get hands-on practice in their classrooms before the semester begins?

Yes, campus buildings and classrooms are open and faculty can try out their classrooms.

Faculty will be receiving both a cloth mask and a clear face shield before the start of classes. What should we wear when teaching? One? Both?

Faculty can wear either a cloth mask, a face shield, or both a mask and shield while teaching. While the Centers for Disease Control does not recommend the use of face shields as a substitute for masks, the CDC also recognizes that they are preferable in some situations. When face shields are worn without a mask, the CDC says they should wrap around the sides of the wearer’s face and extend to below the chin.

What should I do if a student refuses to wear a face covering in my class?

Under the COVID-19 Face Covering Protocol approved by the South Dakota Board of Regents, USD will begin the fall term at Level 3, which requires face coverings in all public indoor spaces on campus. Students who come to class not wearing an appropriate face covering will be asked to put one on. Those who cannot get a face covering in time to join the class may be provided with a disposable mask from a stockpile kept in each classroom if supplies are available or be advised about virtual education options under the Informal Correction process in the COVID-19 Face Covering Protocol. Students who decline to wear a face covering and do not leave the classroom will be referred to the Dean of Students for Formal Correction under the COVID-19 Face Covering Protocol, which may include noncompliance with the Student Code of Conduct. The appropriate conduct process will be initiated if the Dean of Students determines that the allegations are credible. Faculty members may be required to provide virtual options for the student to continue to participate in the course until an outcome is rendered and appeals are afforded. Students who repeatedly come to class without a face covering will be referred to the Dean of Students for remediation, which may range from an educational learning opportunity up to the formal conduct process defined by the Student Code of Conduct.

How should I handle attendance in my classes this fall?

Out of an abundance of caution, students who experience any symptoms associated with COVID-19 (fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting, diarrhea) should contact the Dean of Students office at deanofstudents@usd.edu and not come to class. The Dean of Students will then contact all of that student’s instructors. Any make-up of course requirements missed shall be worked out between the instructor and the student upon the student’s timely initiative with an eye towards both flexibility and the integrity of the academic experience. Students should:

  • Join scheduled synchronous remote class sessions if they are able to do so;
  • Participate in remote class activities, whether synchronous or asynchronous, if they are able to do so;
  • Keep up with classwork if they are able to do so;
  • Submit assignments digitally;
  • Work with their instructors to try to reschedule exams, labs, and other critical academic activities.

Instructors are required to allow for such make-up in a timely manner whether or not a student’s absence has been validated by the Dean of Students. Students are required to remain in timely contact with instructors to the greatest degree possible. Failure to do so may result in a referral to the Dean of Students office.

Can students, especially those viewing my course remotely, record my course without my permission?

Lectures, presentations, and other course materials are protected intellectual property under South Dakota Board of Regents Policy. Accordingly, recording and disseminating lectures, presentations or course materials is strictly prohibited without the express permission of the faculty member. Violation of this prohibition may result in the student being subject to Student Conduct proceedings under SDBOR Policy 3:4.

If a student or two test positive for Covid-19 in a particular class (one hour exposure), will students in that class and the instructor be required to quarantine for a week or two?

When a student tests positive, the South Dakota Department of Health immediately steps in and begins the contact tracing process. They are interested in anyone who was within six feet of an infected person for more than 15 minutes. In our physically distanced classrooms, that means the majority of those in the room will not go through the isolation/quarantine process. This contact tracing is why it is so important for faculty to use seating charts (see the question above) in their classes. Those charts will allow the Department of Health to quickly identify who may or may not have been exposed. USD has 105 isolation/quarantine spaces set up on campus for students living in the residence halls, and contracts for additional space with local hotels should we need it.

If a student in an instructor’s class tests positive for COVID-19, what happens to other classes that instructor teaches? Can he or she record the lecture/problems and post it on D2L? Or do teaching from home using Zoom to all 3 classes, if possible? Or do either - post recorded lectures/problems on D2L for asynchronous learning or do extensive Zoom (synchronous) teaching?

The SD Department of Health contact tracing protocol means that only some people present in a classroom will go through the isolation/quarantine process. However, should that happen with an instructor, they should continue remote instruction of all of their courses while they are in isolation awaiting test results. There is no required mode of remote instruction, and each instructor should choose what is most effective for each course, consulting relevant CTL resources as needed. Should an instructor test positive and go on sick leave, they should work with their chair to find the best solution for each course. 

There are cleaning supplies available in the classrooms. Who is responsible for cleaning the student desks, tables and other surfaces in between classes?

While there is no established protocol for this, individuals, whether they be students or faculty, are welcome to use the cleaning supplies for the individual areas that they come into contact with before or after class.

Are faculty members required to wear a face mask in classrooms if they are wearing a protective face shield?

Faculty can wear shields-only when at the front of the class. However if walking throughout the room and interacting more closely with students, they should be wearing their masks.

Where should I direct students if they have questions regarding COVID-19?

We understand that students may have questions about COVID-19, and we also know that you want to do your part to make our campus as safe as possible. Please note, however, that faculty and staff should not provide medical advice to students, either in class or in conversation. This includes advising students to isolate or quarantine, instructing them to avoid roommates, discussing false-negative results, providing information about infection rates and sharing other suggestions or information that could be construed as medical guidance. Students should have these conversations with their health care providers.

If a student comes to you with questions or concerns about their health, please instruct them to contact Student Health at 605-677-3700. Students who have questions about USD’s response to COVID-19 and the university resources available to them should contact the COVID-19 Task Force at COVID19@usd.edu. The COVID-19 Task Force continues to provide resources and direction for our students so they can make safe, informed decisions this semester.