Students see minimal changes to pandemic protocol

Andrew Rasmussen, Opinion Editor

South Dakota State University will remain in the “level Orange 1” COVID-19 safety guidelines with some minor adjustments, according to an email sent to students and staff. 

“It was determined to introduce a second safety level under orange. The chart will now have safety level Orange 1 and safety level Orange 2 and has been updated accordingly,” the email authored by the SDSU COVID-19 Response Team said. 

Safety level Orange is in place when “State and local transmission data indicate moderate to substantial levels of community spread.” 

Brookings County remains in the “substantial community spread” category with a positivity rate of 13.38% as of Jan. 12, according to the South Dakota Department of Health. 

Moving to the next lowest level, Yellow, would require the community to see a decrease in positive cases over a 14-day period and community spread be limited. 

The differences between level Orange 1 and level Orange 2 are minimal with most changes affecting event capacity. Under level orange 1, external event capacity is set at 60, although virtual events are still encouraged. 

Level Orange 2 limits in-person events to only “those crucial to the SDSU mission,” and dining is reduced to Grab-N-Go and mobile ordering only. 

In addition to the guidelines established in the COVID-19 safety levels, the university will remain in level 3 face covering protocol.

“South Dakota State University requires face coverings in all public indoor spaces on campus (Level 3) until further notice,” according to the JacksRBack website.

The safety levels are considered fluid and will be monitored, according to the email. 

“We do anticipate … that we could move into [level] Orange 2 sometime in the near future, just because of everybody coming back and reopening campus, but in addition with the holiday surge that’s expected,” Vice President of Student Affairs, Michaela Willis, said during the Jan. 11 Students’ Association meeting. “But we’re hoping that if we do move into [level] Orange 2, it’ll only be for a few weeks.”