Dunn addresses university questions in COVID-19 town hall


Gracie Terrall, Copy Editor

In a town hall meeting Friday morning, South Dakota State University President Barry Dunn answered questions about the upcoming semester. 

Dunn started his address by confirming that he has no knowledge of any COVID-19 cases in Brookings or on campus. However, Dunn wanted to stress that “now is the time to diligently follow public health guidelines.” 

As stated in an email from the COVID-19 Response Team, classes will start online March 23 and run through April 6. Dunn anticipates an update will come Friday, March 27 about how the university plans to carry out the rest of the semester. 

Currently, university officials are making plans for a safe move-out of the residence halls if it is needed. This includes storage locations for students who cannot pick up their belongings, as well as alternate options for pick up.  

Housing is still open for students who need it, such as international students and students who live several hundred miles from campus. However, students are encouraged to remain in a place where they have resources to succeed.

University officials are also working on a refund policy for parking and meal plans for students living on campus. A tuition refund policy is also in the works for students who wish to withdraw classes. The policy will be communicated to students once it is finished. 

“We are working with the Board of Regents on a comprehensive and standardized refund policy,” Dunn said. 

A decision has not been made yet regarding commencement in May. Dunn said they are staying aware of the situation and must keep in mind that a gathering of that size may not be safe at that time. University staff is exploring options in the event that commencement must be rescheduled. 

“We will find a way to celebrate the academic achievements of our graduates,” Dunn said. 

For faculty members, the federal government is working on providing sick leave for staff members. Dunn encourages employees to work with their supervisors on flexible scheduling during this time. 

“For our students, who will be the next generation of leaders, it is an incredible opportunity to learn, grow and adapt in an increasingly transformative time,” Dunn said. 

Other Announcements: 

  • The Board of Regents is still making a decision on alternative grading and will be communicated to students once one is made. 
  • As of right now, the time frame of the 2020 spring semester will not be extended. 
  • Special accommodations for online learning will be available for students if they contact the Office of Disability Services. 
  • Students are still expected to check their email and D2L accounts regularly for updates from teaching staff and the COVID-19 Response Team.