Several Northern State students test positive for COVID-19 after youth athletics camps

Published: Jul. 30, 2020 at 6:16 PM CDT
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ABERDEEN, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - Northern State University is taking precautions after eight students and one youth camper tested positive for COVID-19.

The university confirmed today that those individuals who tested positive were present at three youth athletics camps in the previous weeks. Those being a youth volleyball camps from July 20th to 21st, a youth basketball camps on July 23rd, and a youth soccer camp from July 24th to 26th. All who tested positive are experiencing mild to no symptoms. An investigation into who the individuals were around is still ongoing.

The small outbreak of cases comes at a time where many schools and colleges are figuring out how they’ll be able to bring back students to campus, while also preventing a spike in cases. Last week the South Dakota Board of Regents announced that all public institutions in the state of South Dakota will start out the semester at the 3rd level of their mask policy, which states that everyone must wear masks while in all campus buildings.

Signs like these are now being placed around campus at Northern State.
Signs like these are now being placed around campus at Northern State.(KSFY)

Justin Fraase is the Vice President for Marketing and Communications at Northern State. He is also one of the leaders on the University’s task force to safely bring back students in the face of the ongoing pandemic. He says that limiting and containing small outbreaks like this will be a major obstacle to face when starting classes again next month.

“Well anytime something like this happens, you take pause and you evaluate your processes. So for instance, our student athletes, we’ve paused workouts for two weeks. And there may be some research projects students may no longer take part in, at least for the time being.” says Fraase.

Small outbreaks like these will be what South Dakota universities will have to consistently stamp out to keep doors open. Fraase says that although Northern State is doing everything it can to prevent cases spreading in the first place, some instances of virus spread will still fall through the cracks. Ultimately he says it will be on students and faculty to be mindful of their own health and monitor who they’ve been around. Fraase says finding links between those who test positive and those they’ve been in contact is how they’ll prevent spread.

“Contact tracing is key. And we work very closely with the South Dakota Department of Health, in terms of contact tracing. Not only for suspected cases, but in this case as well where we do have confirmed cases. So we’ve been in constant contact with the Department of Health.” says Fraase.

Signs like these are now being placed around campus at Northern State.
Signs like these are now being placed around campus at Northern State.(KSFY)

For now, Northern State will continue it’s COVID-19 guidelines. Nothing with how students will move into campus and how classes will run will change as of now. Fraase says that while small outbreaks like these will need to be stomped out quickly to keep classrooms open, he feels confident that classes will start on time next month.

“We feel pretty safe in terms of moving forward. We do have a lot of procedures, policies in place. All of the things that you’re seeing across the board, like hand sanitizer, masks of course.”

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