SDSU implements a severity scale for COVID-19


Gracie Terrall, News Editor

As South Dakota State University officials prepare for campus reopening in August, new guidelines have been put in place to monitor the situation surrounding COVID-19. 

A four-tiered color-coordinated severity system has been implemented to help determine the risk levels and specific protocols everyone on campus should follow. SDSU is currently at tier 3- which is orange. 

Green is good. Within the green level, no active cases of COVID-19 are present within Brookings. The number of severe cases that result in hospitalization is at a steady level or decreasing. Restrictions around campus are lifted or nonexistent. SDSU will still be encouraging people to self-evaluate their health every day before venturing into the public.

The yellow tier comes with a bit more restrictions. In order for SDSU to acquire the status of yellow, cases within the community should be isolated and present a low risk to individuals. A healthy distance within the classroom will still be enforced and sufficient cleaning capacity should be available. Within this level and the green level, the campus will be open to the public, however, strict guidelines are to be implemented when coming to campus. Events with over 50 people should be reconsidered or canceled. 

Orange has the strongest restrictions when it comes to how the campus will function. Social distancing, masks and self sickness evaluations are highly encouraged at this level. Measures to protect students within the classroom and public areas such as the Union and Larsons Commons will be implemented to ensure the safety of students, faculty and staff. Under an orange status, Brookings will have widespread cases with moderate risk to everyone. However, immunocompromised individuals are at higher risk. Gatherings of over 20 people are to be canceled.  Currently, SDSU is at the orange level, but this might change come fall semester. 

If SDSU reaches the red zone, classes will revert back to an online setting. Substantial spread within the community and on campus can trigger the red status. Hospitals are expected to be overwhelmed and everyone is at high risk. Crowds should not exceed 10 people within this level. 

Luckily, the JacksRBack team has been preparing for a level orange status when creating the initial protocols for the return of students. Adjustments have been made to classrooms and large gathering places. 

The severity of COVID-19 in Brookings and on campus will be reevaluated daily. All sdstate websites will list at the top of the page the current COVID-19 status and additional links to other resources regarding the health crisis at SDSU. 

There are many new developments regarding the reopening of campus, stay tuned for updates on all areas of the JacksRBack plans.