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South Dakota universities get ready to deal with Omicron Variant

Published: Jan. 8, 2022 at 9:39 PM CST
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - College campuses across the country are getting ready for classes to start for the spring semester. With the recent surge of the Omicron variant, campuses are preparing to do what they can to keep students safe.

Last semester, students returned to campus with universities making efforts to provide the best experience and education they could. Again, this semester, universities will be keeping a close eye on what is happening in their communities and around the nation.

“We’re always evaluating, we have a team (the Covid Response team) that reviews how things are going on a daily basis and if there are any concerns; we’re able to escalate it and determine if we need to make any pivots,” said Augustana University COVID Response Coordinator Suzie O’Meara.

Colleges are prepared to go online if needed, but the goal is to have options available for students.

“We have some courses running on the ground and some online, and really we’re adhering to the same schedule that we did before COVID. So, that balance of on-ground and online is consistent with what we had done previously,” said University of Sioux Falls Vice President for Academic Affairs Joy Lind.

Some universities have an interim term in January, and to make sure students are healthy, USF is pushing back start times for some aspects of classes.

“We have a series of lab-based courses that are deferring the lab component of their course to start next week because those are close proximity encounters, just to give people some time to get here, and get settled after the holidays, and see if anything were to happen,” said Lind.

Just like last semester, South Dakota campuses will continue to follow CDC guidelines.

“We’re just making sure that resources are available; that they have adequate access to testing and to vaccinations so that they can stay safe,” said Michaela Willis, South Dakota State University Vice President for Student Affairs.

Each college in South Dakota is determined to provide a safe semester of classes and activities. If students do feel sick, they are encouraged to get tested and stay home.

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