Many changes have come due to the pandemic, including changes to education systems among schools and universities nationwide. However, in the upcoming semester, students, staff and faculty will begin to see some of those changes being reversed.
Last month, the South Dakota Board of Regents gave universities a new schedule for spring semester operations. This will include holiday breaks, three-day weekends and spring break.
Kim Grieve, Dean of Students said these decisions have largely been influenced by responses from students, staff and faculty.
“Students responded that they felt the fall semester was a little bit rough not having any time off so they looked at everything and decided that would be the best way, by making sure we had time and space for students as they move through the semester,” Grieve said.
Students, staff and faculty can expect to have classes off on Martin Luther King Jr. Day and Presidents’ Day and Good Friday. Spring break will be held March 8-12.
Kurt Hackemer, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, said he still advises students to not travel and to remain safe.
“We’re advising caution but quite frankly I don’t want students to travel over spring break, travel like that is extraordinarily dangerous and puts the entire community at risk,” Hackemer said.
USD, Hackemer said, is also advising students to stay safe during the winter and to consider self-quarantining before returning for the spring semester.
“The most important thing students can do if they want to keep their classes is to self-isolate or quarantine before they come back,” Hackemer said.
Hackemer said if students don’t do this the community could experience a spike in cases, and if it cannot be handled, students will not be able to remain in their face-to-face classes.
Grieve said plans have been established in case this does happen and USD has to change operations.
“Of course we have a plan, but what we really want is to be face-to-face and that is absolutely the plan for us, to do as many classes as possible face-to-face within our classroom’s capacities,” Grieve said.
Students, staff and faculty will still be expected to abide by safety precautions such as wearing masks, social distancing and staying home if they don’t feel well.
“We will keep all precautions we have in place because we want to make sure this is as safe as possible for our faculty, staff and our students,” Grieve said.
Both Grieve and Hackemer said USD has been very cooperative of the guidelines and that the fall semester went better than on some other campuses.
“I couldn’t be more proud of the campus and Vermillion community for taking this so seriously and really stepping up so that we could have a successful semester,” Grieve said.
Classes will begin for the spring semester on Monday, Jan. 11. USD will observe spring break March 8-12 and the semester will conclude May 8.