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South Dakota Universities Prepare For Fall Semester

South Dakota Board of Regents

South Dakota Board of Regents Schools are making adjustments to their fall semester schedules due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The institutions semesters begin on August 19th and are ending before Thanksgiving.

The fall semester for South Dakota’s universities are beginning three days earlier than originally scheduled. This is part of the Board of Regent’s plan to have students return to campus during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

The Board of Regents plan is to return to face-to-face classes while practicing healthy social distance in the classroom. Details are still being worked out by the Universities on how to carry this out, including reducing class capacity.

Laurie Nichols is the President of Black Hills State University. She says unlike in the spring, faculty at Black Hills State has plenty more time to prepare to make changes to their classes.

“It’s not just a quick reaction we had to make in a week’s time, we’ve actually had the summer to prepare," Nichols says. "So, one thing we’ve tried to do is a lot more faculty development to get our faculty better prepared so they can do a better job teaching online and there’s been a lot of that going on right now.”

One unique challenge for Universities is how to incorporate the implications of the pandemic into lessons for students.

Lance Roberts is the Provost for the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology. He says he hopes students at the school will use this moment in history as motivation.

“Solving these sorts of issues require engineers and scientists, that’s who’s working on trying to figure out this pandemic," Roberts says. "What engineering controls do we need to put in place? How do we create a vaccine? How do we create other sorts of ways to treat this virus? So, I hope it is bringing out that curiosity in students who do want to go into engineering and science as a result of this.”

In the new fall schedule, there are no three day weekends. The semester will end before the Thanksgiving holiday and final exams are being held online Dec. 2-8.