Monday, January 18, 2021

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Face coverings required at all public universities in South Dakota

Each of the six public universities in South Dakota will require face coverings on campus when the fall academic term begins next month, announced the South Dakota Board of Regents (SDBOR) last week.

All students, visitors, faculty and staff will be required to wear face coverings inside all public buildings.

This new protocol is part of a tiered approach to face covering requirements adopted by the SDBOR. Face coverings may include a mask, bandana, shield or any other covering that covers the mouth and nose.

To begin fall semester operations on the campuses, the regents agreed on Level 3 (see details below) and the action will be reviewed 30 days after the start of the fall academic term.

The board’s protocol provides for four differentiated levels of response:

• Level 1 requires face coverings in all classroom or lab settings where course delivery requires close proximity or physical contact and makes Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommendations on physical distancing impractical. Examples are instructional laboratories, clinical training environments, and design or art studio instruction.

• Level 2 requires face coverings in all public areas of academic buildings on campus (including classrooms, hallways, and common areas), along with other indoor areas where 30 or more individuals frequently congregate or interact in a setting not conducive to maintaining CDC-recommended physical distancing.

• Level 3 requires face coverings in all public indoor spaces on campus.

• Level 4 requires face coverings in all public indoor and outdoor areas of campus.

Significant community spread of Covid-19 in certain areas of the state, or other special circumstances, may result in an individual campus or location operating at a different level within the tiered framework from other institutions.

The board’s enforcement plan explains how the face covering requirement will be enforced- a person who does not wear a face covering will be asked to do so and if they don’t, they can be asked to leave the campus. The most drastic consequences for a student or staff member could be disciplinary action, while a visitor could be banned from campus.

The plan also includes of how a student can request reasonable accommodation through university disability services.

For more information about the face covering policy, visit the South Dakota Board of Regents website at

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