VERMILLION, S.D. – A University of South Dakota survey of students who have tested positive for COVID-19, spent time in isolation or were in protective quarantine after exposure indicated a positive experience with the university’s COVID-19 response during the fall semester.
The survey, conducted by the USD COVID-19 Task Force during Sept. 14 – Sept. 28, showed virtually unanimous approval of the university’s support in the areas of communication, housing, education and emotional well-being.
“USD prepared for the COVID-19 pandemic throughout the summer, and we responded according to plan when students arrived, became ill and needed support,” said Kevin O’Kelley, assistant vice president of research compliance and the head of USD’s COVID-19 Case Management Team. “President Gestring is a firm believer in continuous improvement, and she encouraged us to ask this group of students how our plan had been working, and if we had been doing all we could do to support them from educational, housing and emotional well-being perspectives.”
The task force solicited help from Doug Peterson, Ph.D., chair in the Department of Psychology, to create the survey in order to evaluate the university’s response and learn from the experience and improve on its processes and support for students.
“The results suggest that the overall well-being and positive attitude held by students were the results of multiple factors, including faculty, residential life and administration,” said Peterson. “Those efforts helped to balance the negative impact of reduced social interaction and concerns over academic success.”
“The survey provided us with ideas for improvement, and the task force adjusted their messaging and outreach to address the identified areas of concern,” O’Kelley said. “We explained the opportunities for CDC-compliant social activities, clarified the resources available for health and emotional well-being, and communicated to our faculty their importance in the success of our students dealing with isolation or quarantine.”