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USD Transitions to Mask-Optional Protocol May 10

Seal o the University of South Dakota Beginning May 10, USD will no longer require face coverings in public indoor spaces on campus.

VERMILLION, S.D. – Beginning May 10, the University of South Dakota will no longer require face coverings in public indoor spaces on campus, as announced by the South Dakota Board of Regents (SDBOR) today.

South Dakota’s six public universities, which includes USD, will become “mask optional” environments.

“Our system has continuously responded to changing circumstances caused by the pandemic,” said Brian L. Maher, the regents’ executive director and CEO. “With vaccines now widely available, our institutions are eager to adjust as we look forward to the fall semester. Administrators will continue to monitor conditions, making the best decisions possible with information available to them.”

USD has maintained consistently low infection rates the entire spring semester, with cases reduced by 85% for students and 63% for staff compared to fall. Thanks to the university’s “Know Before You Go” campaigns, generously funded by the South Dakota Department of Health, over 4,000 students, faculty and staff were tested for COVID-19, and voluntarily went into isolation if they were positive.

“In every way, USD has been successful in mitigating COVID-19 on campus, and it is because of everyone’s efforts to #ProtectThePack that we are able to transition to a mask-optional environment,” said USD President Sheila K. Gestring. “At a time when many other universities pivoted to online-only instruction, USD was able to offer face-to-face learning opportunities and on-campus living throughout the year, giving our students a robust learning experience despite the challenges of the pandemic. A mask-optional environment is a step in the right direction as we plan to return to normal campus operations this fall.”

USD will continue to monitor conditions and follow guidelines from state and national public health authorities. The university will update its website at to reflect changes in safety guidelines and campus operations.


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 84 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.


Hanna DeLange
USD News