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Last Updated August 24

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.

Will USD offer graduation ceremonies?

USD plans to host a joint graduation ceremony for undergraduate and graduate students at 9 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020 at the DakotaDome.

If I meet graduation requirements, when will I get my diploma?

As usual, diplomas will be issued in February after final grades are recorded.

Will I still be able to apply for a Graduate Assistantship this year?

Yes. Applications for graduate assistantships are available and USD is proceeding under the assumption that campus will be operating normally in the fall.

Will my advisor still be available?

Yes. If a faculty advisor is not available for any reason, students have full access to professional advisors through the Academic & Career Planning Center.

Is COVID-19 testing available if students are sick? Is it free?

COVID-19 tests are currently paid for by the Federal CARES Act. If an influenza test is required, there is a charge that may be submitted to your insurance company. If you are sick, you are asked not to go into the clinic but to contact Student Health at 605-677-3700.

What measures has USD taken to prepare for students’ return to campus?

Since the university’s decision to transition to remote learning in March, Facilities Management has worked diligently to disinfect all classrooms, restrooms and residence hall rooms on campus. Hand sanitizer stations have also been added to entrances of every residence hall and academic buildings throughout campus. Hand sanitizer dispensers have been added to every classroom on campus. No-touch thermometers are also available at the MUC information desk, the Wellness Center and all front desks of the residence halls.

Does USD require social distancing?

USD has implemented social distancing to the extent possible. The university understands that it may not be possible to practice social distancing in some instances.

Students, faculty, staff and visitors are required to wear face coverings in all indoor public spaces as a safety measure for themselves and others. All USD students, faculty and staff will be provided a branded USD mask.

How can we practice social distancing in classrooms? What about in large lecture halls?

USD ensures students are able to attend classes in-person, and social distancing will take place in classrooms to the extent possible. USD has reexamined all classrooms to create social distancing spaces wherever possible. Some classrooms will not be used. For instance, large lectures may be moved into Aalfs Auditorium, then smaller classes will utilize the lecture halls. Students are required to wear face coverings in all communal spaces as a safety measure for themselves and others.

If needed, USD has installed video technology in all large lecture halls and most classrooms.

If a second surge of the pandemic happened on campus, does USD have an emergency operation plan?

USD has an emergency operation manual and the COVID-19 Task Force in place that continually monitors and follows recommendations of public health authorities. In early spring President Gestring created the COVID-19 Task Force to plan and guide the university’s response to this global pandemic.

The Coyote community’s health and safety remain a top priority for the university.

If a student becomes infected, what will happen?

Part of the institutional response to a student who lives in USD housing and tests positive for COVID-19 would include the following response:

  • Certain floors of residence halls will be designated for students who need to isolate. These floors will be left empty in case there is a need during the school year to isolate any student.
  • Students quarantined in these areas will have:
    • Meals delivered
    • Receive regular health checks from the Department of Health and/or a member of the USD COVID-19 Case Management Team
  • Work with Department of Health officials to assist with contact tracing
  • If hospitalization is deemed necessary, medical centers in Vermillion and Sioux Falls have ample bed spaces and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to meet the needs of our community.

If my roommate gets sick, where do I go? Do I have to quarantine with them?

Students are not expected to quarantine together. There are spaces reserved for students who may need isolation.

Will USD mass test its students, faculty and staff for COVID-19?

Testing is a medical decision made by each individual and their doctor. If ordered by your doctor, COVID-19 tests are currently paid for by the Federal CARES Act. If an influenza test is required, there is a charge that may be submitted to your insurance company.

If students exhibit COVID-19 symptoms, they are asked not to go into the clinic but to contact Student Health at 605-677-3700. USD has a limited amount of space for students who may need to be quarantined and will ensure they receive food and other necessities.

USD strongly urges its campus community to take personal protective measures, including the requirement of wearing face coverings, frequent handwashing, sanitizing of commonly used spaces and other hygiene measures. Students are encouraged to screen themselves for symptoms daily by using the USD Safe app and thermometers are available at the front desks of each residence hall and the Muenster University Center.

How will classrooms be cleaned and how often?

Classroom tables, desks and other commonly touched surfaces are disinfected daily. USD has purchased electrostatic sprayers, which creates a positively charged disinfectant that adheres to surfaces and makes it more efficient for Facilities Management to disinfect these areas. Multiple hand sanitizer stations have been added to each building on campus, and there are thousands of individual hand sanitizers to be distributed. Each classroom is equipped with disinfectant spray and/or wipes as they become available.

I’m a student at the Community College for Sioux Falls. Are safety measures being taken at the Sioux Falls campus?

All of USD’s locations, including the Community College for Sioux Falls, are taking additional measures for safety.

I’m immuno-compromised or have other health concerns. If I feel unsafe, do I have the option to stay home and take classes remotely? What protection measures will be implemented for me?

USD encourages students to work with faculty who are prepared to be flexible. Together, we will come up with a solution that best works for you. If you have questions or concerns, please email

Will my grades be impacted if I get sick and can’t go to class? What is the policy for missing class due to illness?

USD does not have a specific policy in place that addresses student illness. The university encourages students to reach out to the Dean of Students at if you are concerned about the number of absences you obtain from illness. They will work with you to notify all your instructors and find a solution that is in your interest.

If you feel you have been mistreated in the process, there are policies in place and the university will address your concerns.

How will Housing handle large gatherings in residence halls? Will there be increased sanitation procedures in residence halls?

Housing is working to ensure students will be able to practice social distancing in residence halls. All of the residence hall lounges have posted capacity limits. There will not be any large events planned- all events will be done virtually or in repeated small numbers. There has been an increase in regular cleaning and hand sanitization stations are readily available at all residence hall entrances.

How will COVID-19 impact athletics?

The Missouri Valley Football Conference announced it will move USD's eight-game conference schedule to spring 2021. The Summit League announced it will postpone fall regular seasons and championships for volleyball, soccer and cross country to spring 2021. This comes on the heels of the NCAA postponing all fall championships to the spring semester.

The NCAA Guidelines on the Resocialization of Sport can be found here:

Will work study positions still be available?

USD has been working to create the jobs that previously existed, though they may be different, and some may require remote work. Students can visit for more information.

Will research opportunities still be available for students this year?

Yes. Researchers will practice social distancing in labs and in the I.D. Weeks Library. 

Will we still have access to the library, the MUC and the Wellness Center?

Yes, and safety protocols are in place. Students will notice plexiglass shields, more distance between tables, chairs, desks and machines and a readily available supply of hand sanitizer and disinfectant. Students are required to wear face coverings in all communal spaces as a safety measure for themselves and others. There are regularly scheduled deep cleanings in large spaces.

I’m a graduate teaching assistant. Where can I find resources that will prepare me to teach in this new environment?

Graduate teaching assistants and USD faculty can contact the Center for Teaching and Training to request training or attend one of their workshops. They will also find a Remote Instruction Resources shell in D2L to help them prepare. Visit for more information.

Will there still be activities for students?

Yes, there is a robust schedule of activities planned and groups are continually adding to the schedule. If the activity will include a large group, USD will use a larger venue or will offer the activity multiple times. USD encourages student organizations to meet but they are encouraged to practice social distancing and wear face coverings in all communal spaces as a safety measure.

Will professors still offer regular office hours, or will they be virtual?

Every professor will decide when and where to host office hours. D2L has Zoom embedded in every course shell, which makes it easy to host meetings from there.

If I go home to visit family or friends, can I return to campus? Will I have to self-quarantine?

Every student is allowed to visit family or friends as often as they like and return to campus. The only situation USD would ask someone to self-quarantine is if that person knows they were exposed to a positive case of COVID-19.

Will students be allowed to travel through USD, like AWOL?

Yes, students will be allowed to travel through USD-sanctioned events and activities in the fall. USD will keep a close eye on AWOL locations, so students do not travel to COVID-19 hotspots.

Will USD Dining offer no-contact food pickup or delivery options via online ordering?

USD uses an online ordering service through Grubhub. Download the app online.

USD will also limit self-service food options, and Aramark employees will serve students. There will be options to use disposable utensils, plates and bowls.

Will there be additional counseling and student services available for students?

The Student Counseling Center is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and offers same-day/walk-in appointments from 1 – 4 p.m.

USD’s telehealth counseling services remain available for students in need. Appointments can be made by calling 605-658-3580.

Students are encouraged to visit USD’s Student Counseling Center’s website for more information at

I’m graduating in December and nervous about finding a job during this time. What kind of career support is available at USD?

The USD Academic & Career Planning Center (ACPC) assists students in a variety of ways. ACPC can help you with many things during your enrollment at USD, such as:

  • Succeeding academically and socially in your first year
  • Academic scheduling and major exploration, declaration or change
  • Helping you promote your skills to secure internships and employment opportunities
  • Connecting you with employers

Learn more about ACPC at

You can start your job or internship through Coyote Careers, the university’s very own career services network. For more information visit,