State Universities share coronavirus plans for Spring Semester
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - With the Fall Semester under their belt, South Dakota universities are making adjustments to their coronavirus protocols for this Spring Semester.
State schools go back to class on Monday. While they’re hoping this is the last semester they’ll have to implement precautions, they’re tightening their seat belts.
“Masks and personal hygiene and distancing is the most effective way to keep the virus in check. That’s our messaging is keep at it, we’re not done yet,” said Dr. Kurt Hackemer, University of South Dakota’s Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs.
USD is heading into the Spring semester with several lines of defense in place regarding testing. They’ve started with encouraging students to get the Vault saliva test, now available for all state citizens, prior to coming back to campus. They’re also continuing to offer free Sentinel testing in Vermillion.
Dr. Hackemer said, “That is a free COVID test, the PCR test, which is available to any USD faculty, staff, or student every day.”
He continued, “Finally, We are waiting for federal approval for what’s called a QIAGEN test machine, which is a rapid test machine. The Department of Health has been working with us and state-wide there’s an order that’s ready to go.”
SDSU is also continuing to provide free on-site drive-thru testing for students in order to carry on with in-person classes. They say this testing during the Fall Semester has made an impact.
Michaela Willis, SDSU Student Affairs Vice President, said, “We really conducted over 4,000 PCR tests in the Fall semester through our student health clinic, our testing facility, and our one health diagnostic testing lab.”
She added, “So, we really do feel like we had positive results and that was one of the keys to being able to stay in person until Thanksgiving.”
With both Vermillion and Brookings being tight-knit communities with each of their Universities, it makes advancements in on-campus testing even more important.
Dr. Hackemer said, “We need to know who is sick. USD is apart of Vermillion and so we have this obligation to do what we can to protect our home. The university and the city are symbiotic so that’s why we need the testing.”
Dr. Hackemer also said without the hard work and help of the Health Department and healthcare partners, testing like this wouldn’t be possible.
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