March 16, 2020
Dear students, parents, faculty and staff –
It is an unprecedented time in our state, country and world as we continue to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic and make decisions that are in the best interest of everyone in the South Dakota Board of Regents’ system. The health and safety of our students, faculty and staff throughout the state is our top priority and we continue to monitor the situation around the clock.
Considering the continued high risk of exposure throughout the United States and in the interest of public safety, the SDBOR is taking the following actions:
- Beginning Monday, March 23, all classes will be temporarily moved online; and
- On-campus, in-person classes are currently scheduled to resume on Monday, April 6.
This is an evolving situation and the SDBOR will revisit this situation and communicate any changes in course delivery again March 27.
As leaders in higher education, the SDBOR and I are thankful to all the university presidents and their staff who have worked tirelessly the past several weeks, providing wisdom and knowledge to help navigate these difficult times that still include a level of uncertainty. Please refer to our university-specific communications and websites to stay current on the status of campus operations.
Collectively, we are thankful for how our students have responded to the situation and worked to help us mitigate the risks COVID-19 presents. We understand the difficult situation this creates and the impact to those who may not have a theater performance on campus, a recital, senior design project, leadership conference to attend, research to conduct or an intercollegiate championship to compete in anymore. All of our emotions mirror yours and we understand the disappointment and even anger.
Those students who traveled home or elsewhere for spring break are encouraged to stay home or return home until classes resume on the April 6 date currently scheduled. Students who remained on campus during the break are encouraged to consider returning home, if feasible, in order to limit exposure while engaging in classes online.
Students who need to get items from their room this week must complete the break housing request on MyState to arrange for a time to do so.
Residence halls and dining services will continue to remain open during this time. Students are asked to complete the break housing application on MyState to gain approval to return to campus early or remain on campus if absolutely necessary after this week.
Finally, an “Accessing Your On-Line Course” page has been created to answer initial questions about the online course delivery.
FACULTY AND STAFF
Faculty and staff continue to work remotely as allowed this week and will return to campus Monday, March 23. Faculty, in anticipation of online class delivery, have been ensuring all course work will be available to students online, beginning Monday, March 23.
When all faculty and staff return to campus Monday, we will continue to follow CDC guidance on safe workplace habits that includes good hygiene, being careful with meetings, handling of food and staying home if you feel sick or have a sick family member.
Employees who have special circumstances or underlying health conditions should contact their supervisors to discuss alternate arrangements.
Faculty, in coordination with the SDSU Office of Academic Affairs, will communicate with students throughout the week to provide guidance for transitioning to online learning and accessing academic services.
Faculty will communicate with students through university-issued email addresses (students - please check your jacks email account) and D2L for notification of alternative lectures, digital resources, instructions, assignments and exams.
As the situation continues to evolve, university leaders will evaluate options for modified curriculum delivery and campus programming.
UNIVERSITY-SPONSORED ACTIVITIES AND EVENTS
All university-sponsored activities, events and admissions visits scheduled to be on campus will continue to be canceled through April 14. We anticipate canceling events for one week after on-campus classes resume in order to provide for proper planning. In other words, it will be difficult to hold an event the same week we are working to return to “business and usual.”
The following SDSU facilities will remain closed until further notice: the fitness area of the Wellness Center, McCrory Gardens, South Dakota Art Museum, South Dakota Agricultural Heritage Museum, the University Bookstore in the University Student Union, SDSU Dairy Bar, and Meat Lab.
The Fishback Early Learning Center Preschool will also be closed. The kindergarten on campus will be open or closed, based on the schedule determined by the Brookings School District.
LIVING OUR CORE VALUES
I would like to close by reminding everyone how important it is during this difficult and uncertain time that we continue to live and lean on our core values more than ever.
Being people-centered means that we must continue to put the health and safety of everyone at the forefront of our decision making. It means that we need to be understanding of personal needs as the COVID-19 pandemic impacts more than just our campus. It is impacting peoples’ loved ones, their spouse’s work schedule, schools and many of the basic functions we take for granted every day.
Our need to be creative will be challenged more than ever as it is important that we continue to function as a society and find ways to maintain the strength of our economy, growth of industry, and in our case, the ability to continue to educate the next generation of leaders.
During these next several weeks and maybe months, we will need to act with the highest level of integrity through honest interactions, high standards of professionalism, transparent and accountable decision making. Stress and anxiety will be elevated in everyone and the value we place on each other and those interactions will lead us in the right direction.
A commitment to diversity and a community of ideas will build the supportive, inclusive and collaborative community we need to emerge on the other end of this situation a better, stronger and more powerful organization. The power of unity begins with collective thought and embracing everyone as we go through this together. The respect we have for each other is a powerful building block today and into the future.
Finally, our excellence will be on display. We continue to use words like “unprecedented” and “fluid” because these decisions require us to be nimble, continue to assess and be accountable and operate with bold action and adaptation to the changing environment. Collectively, we will do this together and be that premier university.
Thank you, again, for your continued support and response to the challenge we face. While this pandemic may alter some of our traditional pathways, we will chart new ones that will make us stronger and our students better prepared to face the new world.
Barry H. Dunn