S.D. universities plan classes on state holidays

Capitol News Bureau

PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — Students at South Dakota’s public universities will have classes on three state holidays this fall, when most state government offices otherwise are closed, as campuses adjust schedules because of COVID-19.

The holidays are Labor Day, September 7; Native Americans’ Day, October 12; and Veterans’ Day, November 11.

Universities will replace those with days-off for faculty and other employees later in the year.

All university campuses plan to be closed between Christmas and New Year’s Day to facilitate deep cleaning and other preparations for the spring semester, according to a statement from the South Dakota Board of Regents.

“The campuses will provide those holidays on December 28, 29, & 30, 2020, to civil service and non-faculty exempt employees. Each campus will manage essential operations and will provide employees who are required to work during that period alternate days off or compensate them in accordance with administrative rules and board policy,” said Janelle Toman, the regents’ director of communications.

“It gets a little more complicated because faculty aren’t on the employment schedule at that time. So, I believe faculty will get the three holidays, granted in lieu of, on the three days following final exams,” she said.

Students begin classes Wednesday, August 19. The final day of on-campus classes is Tuesday, November 24, so that students can leave for the semester before Thanksgiving, November 26. Final exams are all online, because of COVID-19, and planned for December 2-4 and December 7-8.

The regents are trying to minimize opportunities when students could leave campus this fall, so there are fewer chances for COVID-19 to be spread.

The Legislature earlier this year repealed the state law requiring collective bargaining for most people employed by the regents or working at a regents institution. Governor Kristi Noem signed the repeal March 12. It took effect July 1.

“I don’t know that we would have been fighting them on the holidays issue,” said Mark Geary, an assistant professor at Dakota State University. He is South Dakota president for the Council of Higher Education that represented many faculty in contract negotiations.

Geary cited “extraordinary” circumstances of COVID-19. “We all recognize adjustments have to be made,” he said.

The public campuses include University of South Dakota at Vermillion, the USD School of Medicine in Sioux Falls, the USD Community College for Sioux Falls, South Dakota State University in Brookings, Dakota State University in Madison, Northern State University in Aberdeen, South Dakota School of Mines and Technology in Rapid City, Black Hills State University in Spearfish, and BHSU-Rapid City.

Total headcount last fall was 34,520, according to the regents.

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