SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) – College students across the state are returning back to class today after enjoying time off for spring break. However, last year at this time, that wasn’t the case due to COVID-19 making headlines. Instead of returning to campus, universities transitioned to online instruction for the remainder of the semester.
It’s been an anything but normal year for universities across KELOLAND. Schools made adjustments to welcome students back to campus in the fall.
“Everybody has been trying to do all those mitigation strategies that everyone across the state and across the country have been working on to make things successful and we have been, that’s the part that I think is just so exciting, we were able to identify ways to stay on campus and in person all the way through fall semester and we’ve had a very successful spring semester,” associate vice president for student affairs, SDSU, Doug Wermedal said.
“This year has been tough, we’ve kept as much of our coursework as face to face as we possibly can, and we’ve been very good about that but classroom activities and social activities and campus events have all been different because of social distancing and masks and all the preventative measures that we’ve taken,” provost and vice president for academic affairs, USD, Kurt Hackemer said.
Today students returned back from spring break. Both USD and SDSU are encouraging students to get tested for COVID-19.
“Some students went home, some stayed on campus, and some engaged in routine spring break, really whatever their choice was, but beginning today we opened our testing site again and we are encouraging every student to get a test,” Wermedal said.
University officials are now remaining hopeful for a successful rest of the semester of keeping the virus in check.
“The thing we are obviously watching is what happens with these new variants of the virus, which some are hitting South Dakota, so we are cautiously optimistic, but I am pretty hopeful that we will get through the end of the semester,” Hackemer said.
USD held a COVID-19 testing campaign prior to spring break. More than 1,000 people in the campus community took advantage of the free testing. Hackemer says out of that testing event, they had four positive tests.