Spring break extended due to COVID-19 concerns

The South Dakota Board of Regents announced Thursday that all public South Dakota universities will extend spring break until Friday, March 20 due to concerns over COVID-19, commonly known as coronavirus.

An email sent out by Black Hills State University President Laurie Nichols confirmed that “offices will be open, but classes will not be held March 16-20.”

This decision affects all six of the public South Dakota universities: BHSU, Dakota State University, Northern State University, School of Mines, South Dakota State University and University of South Dakota.

“No cases have been reported at BHSU,” Nichols said, but the school will “continue to work closely with the South Dakota Board of Regents to review and update plans.”

These plans may include the adjustment of “programs and coursework, adapt[ing] instructional methods” and preparing to appropriately respond to COVID-19, Nichols said.

A separate email sent to students living on campus by John Ginther, Associate Director of Residence Life, helped to clarify what will happen to campus next week. 

“BHSU Residence Life will open Sunday morning, March 15, 2020, as planned, and dining services at the Hive will resume on Monday, March 16, 2020,” Ginther said. “We strongly encourage you to discuss your plans to return to campus with your parents and/or guardians. We are taking this situation seriously, and we recommend you stay home, if you can.”

From March 16-22, dining services will operate on the weekend/holiday schedule of brunch from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. and dinner from 5-6:30 p.m., according to Ginther. Hand sanitizing stations have also been set up in the dining area for students to use.

The Student Union, including Health Services, and the library will be open from 8 a.m.-5 p.m Monday through Friday.

Additionally, Ginther said, residence hall activities are suspended until further notice, and large student gathering and socializing in public spaces will be broken up and students will be asked to return to their rooms.

If students are planning on returning to campus, they need to call the Residence Life office at 605-642-6464 and provide their name, hall and room number and their anticipated date of arrival. Students who have traveled more than 100 miles from Spearfish since March 1 must fill out a Travel Reporting form, found at https://cm.maxient.com/reportingform.php?BlackHillsStateUniv&layout_id=7, before returning to campus.

“I realize these changes create difficulties in planning and scheduling,” Nichols said. “Thank you for your flexibility and understanding as we continue to monitor and respond to this rapidly changing situation.”