How SDSU will handle a refusal to wear a mask


School administrators can require students to wear masks, but what comes next? What if a student refuses to wear one? For all public universities in South Dakota, wearing a face covering is required if you’re going to be in a public indoor space that’s on campus.

“We’re going to simply ask, remind people that we do have a face covering policy and face coverings are required in this facility and just simply ask if we can help them with locating one,” said Michaela Willis, vice president for student affairs and enrollment management at South Dakota State University. “All of our offices across campus have disposable face coverings available, and we’ve provided all of our employees and our students with ‘Jacks Are Back’ kits, which include two SDSU cloth face coverings.”

But, some people see a face covering mandate as an infringement on their rights.

“We always have the ability to ask someone to leave a facility or to leave the university property, that’s always one option that is available through our employee process,” Willis said. “We have written warnings, we have disciplinary action and through our student conduct process we have ways that we will hold students accountable if they’re not following those policies and protocols.”

KELOLAND News spoke with students about masks on Tuesday night.

“If people don’t use them, I feel like we might not be able to finish the school year,” freshman Riley Ketcham said. “I feel like we all want this school year to be as normal as possible.”

Right now it seems like just about everyone has a strong opinion on masks. But there can be room for a middle ground.

Dan Santella: So you don’t have any problem with wearing a mask here at SDSU?

“Nope, I don’t have a problem not wearing one, either,” freshman Tessa Holien said.

“Everybody’s going to have an opinion, everybody does have an opinion,” freshman Gabrielle Knecht said. “Masks are something that is apparently polarizing, I don’t really understand it. But if they have a problem they can talk to administration about it.”

School resumes at SDSU on Wednesday.

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