Board of Regents considers spring calendar changes


Colette Gannon, Reporter (She/Her)

One concern circulating around South Dakota State University is how the spring semester is going to look this academic year.

The South Dakota Board of Regents is holding a meeting Oct. 7 to answer this question.

SDSU is one of the six public universities under the Board of Regent jurisdiction affected by the potential changes to the Spring 2021 academic calendar.

Over the past several weeks, while discussing these alterations, board members have taken into consideration public health policy and the spring break period.

“With all stakeholders, including the Board of Regents Executive Committee and the Council of Presidents, it is recommended that no changes be made to the calendar for Spring 2021 at this time,” the agenda read.

The non-course days scheduled for Spring 2021 are Jan. 18, Feb. 15, March 8-12 and April 5.

“This fall semester has been full steam ahead with no breaks at all until Thanksgiving … having less breaks next semester wouldn’t be much of a change,” SDSU freshman Nicole Schilling said. “The spring semester is when a lot of students can get burnt out though, and I think that spring break is a really important time to reset partway through in order to keep students motivated and energized.”

According to the committee, the recommendation to make no changes to the Spring 2021 academic calendar also came in recognition that mitigation strategies like mask-wearing, hybrid courses and seating capacity have helped in slowing the spread of COVID-19.

“The deciding factors for any change will include health and safety of the university community, potential for impact on academic programs and impact on students and staff,” Dennis Hedge, SDSU’s provost and vice president of academic affairs said.

The agenda item  said that a committee had been assigned to investigate options for the Spring 2021 calendar, even collaborating with an epidemiologist “to gain a public health perspective.”

The committee includes academic vice presidents from SDSU, Black Hills State University and University of South Dakota.

During the SDSU Students’ Association meeting Monday, Oct. 5, Senators unanimously passed a resolution to support the retention of non-course days.

“When talking to students across the campus, I overwhelmingly heard the five days a week over and over again was getting kind of taxing for students,” SA Vice President Reis Bruley said.

The discussion of the Spring 2021 academic calendar comes just after the Board of Regents reviewed their face covering protocol Sept. 22, affirming that Level 3– which requires facemasks in all indoor public spaces on campus– will remain in effect for all SDBOR institutions until further notice.

The committee’s conclusion on the Spring 2021 calendar will be live-streamed via Zoom, for which the link can be found on the SDBOR website.