As in the past, some professional and graduate programs will continue to operate on a separate academic calendar, including the Sanford School of Medicine and School of Law, as well as the physical therapy, occupational therapy and physician assistant programs.

The board announced last month its commitment to on-campus operations this fall. Today, the regents said all campuses will begin instruction on Wednesday, Aug. 19, which is three days earlier than originally scheduled. Instead of returning to campus after the Thanksgiving recess Nov. 25-29, students will complete their final exams remotely.

“USD remains vigilant about public health and safety as we navigate the global coronavirus pandemic,” said USD President Sheila K. Gestring. “This small adjustment in scheduling can have a significant impact as we reduce student travel to and from campus. We are grateful for the collaboration between the South Dakota Board of Regents and the state’s public institutions as we find solutions for our students without sacrificing the quality of education they deserve.”

To provide for required instructional time in a condensed semester and to further reduce travel, three holidays—Labor Day, Native American Day and Veterans Day—will become class days. With classes in session on those dates, universities will plan programming to appropriately recognize the holidays. Employees will be given time off in lieu of these holidays later in the year.

After the Thanksgiving holiday, students have two non-class days available as they prepare for final exams Dec. 2-8. All universities will close Dec. 25 – Jan. 1 to facilitate deep cleaning and other preparations for the spring semester.

For more updates about USD’s pandemic planning, visit

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