New semester brings more in-person learning


South Dakota’s public universities are about two weeks into the spring semester.

While the pandemic is still here, significantly fewer students are testing positive for COVID-19 today than at the start of the school year.

You’ll still find masks and social distancing, but campuses are making some changes.

SDSU student Nicholas Rosin is spending much more time in the classroom this semester than the fall.

The sophomore says all of his classes last semester were online.

This time around, all but one of his courses are in person.

“I’m not much of an online learner, so it’s kind of nice that most of my classes are in person now and I can go to class and the campus is more opened up this semester,” SDSU Sophomore Nicholas Rosin said.

“Much like in the fall, we do still have face-to-face courses, online courses, and again that mixed modality approach to instruction, but those ratios have changed pretty significantly from the fall to the spring,” SDSU Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Dennis Hedge said.

Hedge says the university has increased in-person learning this semester while still keeping safety measures in place.

More than 50 percent of classes are fully face-to-face this semester, compared to about 40 percent last semester, according to Hedge.

Lessons learned last semester have helped the university better manage section sizes and use some spaces on campus as classrooms.

With months to go in the spring semester, COVID mitigation will continue to be key moving forward.

“Our goal is to make sure we have a semester that flows continuously leading up to commencement. We’re all about making sure our students stay on track to earning their degrees and that’s really our goal right now is to make sure that we don’t have to cease any operations and get to commencement day and celebrate the great academic achievements of our students,” Hedge said.

“I think this year the campus and faculty know more about the situation and how to take care of the students’ needs, so I feel like this semester will go more smoothly,” Rosin said.

Hedge says the university has also had “great buy-in” on mask-wearing among students, faculty and staff.

Face coverings are currently required in all public indoor spaces on campus.

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