ABERDEEN, S.D.(Aberdeen American News)- Colleges across the country and locally are working with COVID-19 safety protocols as students return to campus.
Northern State University’s first day of class was Monday, with Presentation College having its first day on Aug. 31.
University COVID-19 safety protocols have been a conversation nationally, especially with the surge of delta variant cases. South Dakota is currently leading the nation as the state with the highest increase in COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents. The state has a seven-day average of 20 cases per 100,000 residents.
Many students are eager to return to campus this year.
Northern State undergraduate students Suzi Fitterer and Lexi Greshik said that they understand they might have to go back to stricter COVID-19 protocols if the situation worsens. Still, the relaxed protocols are welcome for now.
“Last year we wore masks all year indoors,” said Fitterer.
Unless students were in their dorms or outside, masks had to be worn on the campuses of South Dakota’s six public universities, a policy set by the Board of Regents.
This year, students and faculty will not be required to wear masks, although they can wear them if they choose. In addition, classes that are in person will be at full capacity, said Justin Fraase, vice president of enrollment and communications at Northern. He also noted that faculty had the freedom to decide whether to hold classes in person or online, as the university offered some classes online even before the pandemic.
Fraase said that the school is trying to get back to as normal as possible. However, the plan is fluid, and the university is prepared to adjust throughout the school year.
He said Northern is going to encourage vaccinations, though they will not be required. There will be several vaccination clinics on campus during the semester.
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