MADISON, S.D. (KELO) — More than 900 public university students and staff across the state are quarantined due to COVID-19 on Friday. 275 have active cases of the virus. University of South Dakota has the highest number, with 166 cases and more than 500 people in quarantine.
The lowest? Dakota State University with two active cases and 26 people in quarantine. That may be because DSU already had an advantage before the pandemic, offering at least a third of its undergraduate classes online. This fall semester there has also been an increase in the number of DSU students choosing to go online only.
London Van Sickle graduated from Harrisburg High School last spring with more than 40 credits under his belt, thanks to the duel credit program with Dakota State University.
He planned to live on campus while working to complete his degree in cyber security this fall, but changed his mind when the pandemic hit.
“I was still planning on coming home sometimes on the weekends maybe and my mom is high risk for coronavirus and I don’t want her exposed to that. So I was going to do for sure, the first semester online,” London Van Sickle said.
Now he’s planning to spend the whole school year saving money by living at home and still going to school full-time online.
“Everybody has to make their choice and I don’t think there is any one right way to do this thing. I’m happy for those who have decided to go and I hope it goes well for them and I’m more than happy to have London make his decision too, Kory Van Sickle said.
“Even before this coronavirus issue, we have more students who are fully internet based,” Jim Moran, DSU Provost / Vice President for Academic Affairs
275 DSU students, like London, are online only. The Van Sickles aren’t worried about him missing out on the traditional college experience.
“Not that interested–I was fine with doing it, but I’m going to do it eventually anyway, London said.
“He can do that next year. He can have that experience of being away next year,” Kory said.
When it comes to keeping cases low on campus, DSU has another advantage as well.
“We don’t have the fraternities and sororities that other campuses have, so that clustering of students with the gatherings and things, we may have had less of and I think that’s helped,” Moran said.
The Van Sickles say there’s a silver lining in their decision.
“Really thankful, to be honest, to have London home for one more year,” Kory said.
Unlike South Dakota’s larger public universities, DSU is going ahead with fall sports.
It is screening its student athletes for symptoms daily.