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Regents Adopt Tiered Approach to Face Covering Protocols

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The South Dakota Board of Regents has adopted a tiered approach to face covering requirements for its six public universities when the fall academic term begins Aug. 19.

Wednesday’s action creates a framework under which the board and its universities are positioned to react quickly to adjust campus operations whenever necessary. Brian Maher, the regents’ executive director and CEO, characterized it as “responding in a practical way to the changing COVID-19 landscape at campuses and within their respective communities.”

To begin fall semester operations on the campuses, the regents agreed to require face coverings in all public indoor spaces on campus (Level 3). This action will be reviewed 30 days after the start of the fall academic term.

"We are pleased with the work of the South Dakota Board of Regents and our peer institutions in the state to approve a face coverings policy to help ensure the safety of our students and employees, said SDSU President Barry Dunn. “The policy was the result of several weeks of research and discussion among the university presidents, the regents and BOR staff. Information was provided by leading medical experts and by the South Dakota Department of Health. Guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was also utilized.

“The past three months at our university have included intense planning as we prepare for the return of on-campus instruction Aug. 19. We have developed plans that we are confident give us the best opportunity to have success during the fall semester. South Dakota State University is one community where everyone has a role in helping keep each other safe and the face covering policy helps to support those plans.”

The board’s protocol, which applies to all students, staff, faculty and campus visitors, provides for four differentiated levels of response:

  • Level 1 requires face coverings in all classroom or lab settings where course delivery requires close proximity or physical contact and makes Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations on physical distancing impractical. Examples are instructional laboratories, clinical training environments, and design or art studio instruction.
  • Level 2 requires face coverings in all public areas of academic buildings on campus (including classrooms, hallways and common areas), along with other indoor areas where 30 or more individuals frequently congregate or interact in a setting not conducive to maintaining CDC-recommended physical distancing.
  • Level 3 requires face coverings in all public indoor spaces on campus.
  • Level 4 requires face coverings in all public indoor and outdoor areas of campus.

Significant community spread of the coronavirus in certain areas of the state, or other special circumstances, may result in an individual campus or location operating at a different level within the tiered framework from other institutions.