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Survey Indicates Positive Reaction to USD's Response to COVID-19

A beautiful, classic picture of Old Main on USD A survey conducted by the USD COVID-19 Task Force showed virtually unanimous student approval of the university's support in the areas of communication, housing, education and emotional well-being.

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.”

ABOUT USD

Founded in 1862 and the first university in the Dakotas, the University of South Dakota is the only public liberal arts university in the state, with 202 undergraduate and 78 graduate programs in the College of Arts & Sciences, School of Education, Knudson School of Law, Sanford School of Medicine, School of Health Sciences, Beacom School of Business and College of Fine Arts. With an enrollment of nearly 10,000 students and more than 400 faculty, USD has a 16:1 student/faculty ratio, and it ranks among the best in academics and affordability. USD’s 18 athletic programs compete at the NCAA Division I level.

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