University of South Dakota students received a written recommendation from President Sheila Gestring Friday that they voluntarily quarantine and attend their last 10 days of classes of this semester virtually instead of in-person.
The letter contains no mandate, but Gestring states, “With case numbers rising across the state and on a national level, we want to empower our campus community to voluntarily quarantine before returning home for Thanksgiving break. We each must do our part to protect the communities of South Dakota and beyond.”
Her letter lists a number of steps the university is putting into place for its final 10 days of on-campus learning:
• “If students feel they can be successful in online learning, we are asking them to attend classes remotely and use this time to self-quarantine before returning home for break. While we are confident that our classrooms are safe places, we want to facilitate students remaining at home or in their dorm rooms as much as possible,” Gestring said. “We know this is not possible for all classes; if your course has an essential face-to-face component and cannot be fully converted to remote instruction, we ask that you inform your students immediately. If there is a remote option, students have been asked to contact their faculty member if they plan to participate virtually.”
• Effective Monday, Nov. 16, the Muenster University Center will serve take-out food only. Grub Hub is available for contactless ordering.
• Indoor, face-to-face events without assigned physically distanced seating will be postponed.
• Most athletic practices (excluding men’s basketball, women’s basketball, and swimming and diving) will be paused until further notice.
• The Wellness Center will return to Phase 1 of its operation plans and will pause the following services: Group fitness classes, personal training services, indoor intramurals, functional training room, climbing wall and racquetball courts.
“Our goal is to cross the finish line safely for the semester and help our campus community protect their hometown communities as our students return home for the holidays,” the president states in her letter. “Additionally, to reduce campus density, we are asking supervisors to consider alternative work arrangements between the holidays.”
According to the university’s COVID-19 Dashboard, the number of self-reported positive cases literally doubled on campus in the last five days. On Nov. 9, there were 41 active cases reported among 33 students and eight employees.
By Nov. 13, the number had grown to 82 active cases, made up of 59 students and 23 USD staff.