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Last updated January 2021

The health and safety of our Coyote community continues to be a top priority. Below are answers to some commonly asked questions regarding the University of South Dakota’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the resources available to students and the changes you can expect on campus. If you have additional questions, please contact the USD COVID-19 Task Force at

What do I do if I have been exposed to COVID-19, am showing symptoms or test positive for COVID-19?

Students who have been exposed to COVID-19, are wondering if they should quarantine, are sick or have symptoms, or test positive for COVID-19 can consult our Next Steps website for guidance. 

If you are sick or have symptoms of COVID-19, please stay home, stay away from other people and contact Student Health at 605-677-3700. 

We highly encourage all students, faculty and staff who test positive for COVID-19 to self-report to the COVID-19 Task Force using the self-report form. Students who self-report will receive further direction and resources to ensure they are supported during their isolation period and are able to succeed academically.

Is COVID-19 testing available for students who are asymptomatic? Is it free?

Yes; free drive-thru testing is available to USD students, faculty and staff through the USD Sentinel Testing program, which is sponsored by the South Dakota Department of Health. Additionally, at-home COVID-19 saliva test kits are available to students and South Dakota residents at no cost. Visit our Testing and Self-Reporting page for more information.

Is COVID-19 testing available if students are sick?

If you are sick, contact Student Health at 605-677-3700. You are asked to call in advance rather than going directly to the clinic.

What measures has USD taken to make campus a safer place?

Facilities Management worked diligently to disinfect all classrooms, restrooms and residence hall rooms on campus. Hand sanitizer stations were added to entrances of every residence hall and academic buildings throughout campus. Hand sanitizer dispensers were also added to every classroom on campus. No-touch thermometers are available at the MUC information desk, the Wellness Center and all front desks of the residence halls. Classroom capacity has been reduced to increase physical distance between students. Capacity in dining areas has also been reduced to accommodate physical distancing to the extent possible.

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.

Does USD require social distancing?

Students, faculty, staff and visitors are required to wear face coverings in all indoor public spaces as a safety measure to protect themselves and others. All USD students, faculty and staff have been offered a branded USD mask.

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

USD continues to offer face-to-face instruction and has implemented social distancing in classrooms to the extent possible. USD reexamined all classrooms to create social distancing spaces wherever possible. Some classrooms are not in use. 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. USD has also incorporated video technology in classrooms where needed.

Does USD have an emergency operation plan to respond to resurgences of COVID-19?

USD has an emergency operation manual, and the COVID-19 Task Force continually monitors and follows recommendations of public health authorities. In early spring of 2020, 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.

What happens when students test positive for COVID-19?

Certain floors of residence halls are designated for students who need to quarantine or isolate. Students 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

The USD COVID-19 Cast Management Team also offers a variety of support services for students who require quarantine or isolation; for more information, visit our Quarantine and Isolation page.

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 or isolate together. There are spaces reserved for students who may need isolation.

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

The USD Sentinel Testing program offers free drive-thru COVID-19 testing for USD students, faculty and staff. Additionally, the Department of Health has sponsored free at-home COVID-19 tests for students and residents of South Dakota. More information about these testing opportunities is available at Students, faculty and staff are encouraged to get tested for COVID-19 to protect others, but all testing takes place on a volunteer basis.

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.

How will classrooms be cleaned and how often?

Classroom tables, desks and other commonly touched surfaces are disinfected regularly. 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 thousands of individual hand sanitizers have been distributed. Each classroom is equipped with disinfectant spray and/or wipes.

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. Students can expect to see plexiglass, hand sanitizer stations, disinfectant spray and/or wipes and rearranged classroom, among other measures to make the CCSF safer.

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. The Dean of Students Office 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?

All of the residence hall lounges have posted capacity limits. There will not be any large events planned in Housing; all events will be done virtually or repeated with limited attendance. 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?

Some athletic events will be held, and attendance will be limited to facilitate physical distancing. Face coverings are required in athletic facilities. 

The Missouri Valley Football Conference has moved USD's eight-game conference schedule to spring 2021. The Summit League postponed fall regular seasons and championships for volleyball, soccer and cross country to spring 2021. 

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

What changes have taken place to make the MUC and the Wellness Center safer?

Students will notice plexiglass shields; more distance between tables, chairs, desks and machines; and a readily available supply of hand sanitizer and disinfectant in the MUC and the Wellness Center. 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.

USD has limited self-service food options, and Aramark employees serve students. There are options to use disposable utensils, plates and bowls. Students are encouraged to use Grubhub for no-contact food pickup on campus.

The Wellness Center is currently operating under Phase 1 safety protocols. Please visit for more information about Wellness Center operations.

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, and consult our Classroom Management FAQs webpage.

Are there still 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. Students should consult the USD events calendar and the weekly newsletter distributed by the Dean of Students for a schedule of upcoming events.

Do professors still offer regular office hours, or are they virtual?

Every professor can 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.

Are students allowed to travel through USD, like AWOL?

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

Does 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.

Are 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

In the fall of 2020 USD began offering Therapy Assistance Online (TAO), which provides resources for visit for more information.

I’m graduating soon and am 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,