VERMILLION, S.D. – The University of South Dakota will require face coverings in all public indoor spaces on campus when the fall academic term begins Aug. 19, as announced by the South Dakota Board of Regents (SDBOR) yesterday.
This new protocol, which applies to students, faculty, staff and visitors, is part of a tiered approach to face covering requirements adopted by the SDBOR for the state’s six public universities. Face coverings may include a mask, bandana, shield or any other covering that covers the mouth and nose.
“USD strongly supports wearing face coverings as a practical way to reduce the transmission of COVID-19,” said USD President Sheila K. Gestring. “In addition to maintaining physical distancing and washing your hands, wearing a face covering is one of the most significant steps we can take to help protect others and ourselves. We are grateful for the Board of Regents’ action, which offers universities the flexibility to act quickly to adjust campus operations, should it become necessary due to the fluid nature of the coronavirus pandemic.”
To begin fall semester operations on the campuses, the regents agreed to require face coverings in all public indoor spaces on campus (Level 3). This action will be reviewed 30 days after the start of the fall academic term.
The board’s protocol, which applies to all students, staff, faculty, and campus visitors, provides for four differentiated levels of response:
- Level 1 requires face coverings in all classroom or lab settings where course delivery requires close proximity or physical contact and makes Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommendations on physical distancing impractical. Examples are instructional laboratories, clinical training environments, and design or art studio instruction.
- Level 2 requires face coverings in all public areas of academic buildings on campus (including classrooms, hallways, and common areas), along with other indoor areas where 30 or more individuals frequently congregate or interact in a setting not conducive to maintaining CDC-recommended physical distancing.
- Level 3 requires face coverings in all public indoor spaces on campus.
- Level 4 requires face coverings in all public indoor and outdoor areas of campus.
Significant community spread of the coronavirus in certain areas of the state, or other special circumstances, may result in an individual campus or location operating at a different level within the tiered framework from other institutions.
“We know this fall will look a little different for our community members,” Gestring said. “But we’re confident that we can deliver a true USD experience that meets students’ academic, social and emotional needs.”
“Our task force leaders and medical experts have been tirelessly developing plans and resources for our students, from reassessing classroom arrangements to implementing new sanitation procedures to reimagining student programming. We are ready for our students to bring their energy and joy back to campus, and we will continue to prioritize providing a high-quality education in an environment that emphasizes the health and safety of our community.