COVID-19 FAQs 

This is an evolving situation. Please check back often as the questions and answers here are likely to be updated as the circumstances change.  

Academics  |   Campus Life  |   Canceled Events  |   CARES Act Fund  |   Dining  |   Health and Prevention  |  If a Student Gets Sick  |   International Students  |   Residence Life  |   Schedule Change  |   Travel  |  Visitors and Guests 


Academics

How are classes being scheduled for the fall semester?

Information Updated as of: 6/18/20 3:00pm

Some courses that were previously planned to be offered in-person will be converted to an online class because the faculty member teaching the course is considered to be in the “high risk” category per CDC guidelines. In addition, because of the need to reduce classroom capacities in compliance with social distancing recommendations, some of the larger classes are being converted to online as there are no spaces on campus large enough to accommodate them.  However, these classes will likely have instructor lead online sessions that students can join live, allowing for interactions in the online classroom. Other courses may involve some in-person class time combined with virtual meetings and structured group work.

How will final exams be administered at the end of the fall semester?

Information Updated as of: 6/18/20 7:36am

Finals week has been moved to December 2-8, 2020.  Your instructors will make the taking of your final exam or its equivalent feasible and fair, but there is no one way this is being accomplished.  Please look into your course syllabus for details, and contact the instructor of the course if you have questions.  

Will online classes look like they did during the spring semester?

Information Updated as of: 6/12/20 1:22pm

All summer, faculty are learning and exploring online teaching techniques to make your fall instructional experience highly interactive, supportive, and effective.  They are learning to use multiple online tools to create learning environments in which you will interact and collaborate with other students and have the experiences, such as teaming, presenting, and creating, you expect and want.  Work is underway to re-tool labs and field experiences to ensure they are effective and engaging regardless of how the public health circumstances evolve in the fall.  We’re confident your online experience will be much different during the fall semester.  

Will classes be offered online if a student does not want to attend in person?

Information Updated as of: 6/3/20 8:45am

Faculty are looking at each course they plan to offer in the fall and thinking through the delivery of those courses. We know that some courses will be online to protect faculty members who are considered to be at-risk per the CDC. Because social distancing will be so important in everything we do on campus, classroom capacities will be significantly reduced. To that end, faculty are looking at ways to conduct classes where students rotate into the face-to-face portion of the course one day of the week and attend live via Zoom on the other days. This ensures the number of students in a class at any given time are below the maximum allowed for social distancing, yet students can join lectures live, interact with the professor and other students, and remain safe during this time. For smaller enrollment courses, faculty are looking at “hybrid” models where students attend some instruction face-to-face and some instruction online. Labs are generally planned to be face-to-face with proper social distancing and cleaning protocols in place to ensure safety.

How will you practice social distancing in the classrooms and labs?

Information Updated as of: 6/3/20 8:45am

We are looking at various ways to offer classes in order to accommodate social distancing. Classroom spaces are being adjusted with desks and tables being spread out which means we will not be able to accommodate the same number of students in the classroom as on a normal basis. For this reason, each lecture will be offered both in person and synchronous online (and will be recorded), allowing us to have a staggered schedule for face-to-face teaching. Students will alternate days in the classroom with days online. Courses with a smaller number of students may also be moved to a much larger classroom that can handle the entire class roster while ensuring proper social distancing. We are also looking at adding lab sections to allow for less students in the lab at one time. Classroom and lab space will be properly cleaned on a more frequent basis to minimize the ability of the virus to survive on surfaces. We highly recommend students wear a mask in any group setting.


Campus Life

Will I be able to hang out in Surbeck?

Information Updated as of: 6/10/20 3:15pm

Yes, there will still be places to hang out in the Surbeck Center even though there will be less seating spaces. The game room will remain open as well.


Canceled Events 

Are Summer Camps canceled?

Information Updated as of: 5/11/20 8:43pm

Academic Camps - All in-person middle/high school summer camps for summer 2020 have been canceled. We are offering a FREE virtual Mining and Explosives camp. For more information, go to  Virtual Summer Camp: Mining and Explosives. We look forward to launching our summer 2021 registration this fall.

Athletic Youth Camps – All camps scheduled in June have been canceled. Hardrocker Athletics will continue to evaluate the potential for alternative camp dates after July 1.

Geology and Geological Engineering Field Camps: Some camps have been canceled. Others are being rescheduled to start after June 30. If camps that start after June 30 end up being canceled, the GGE faculty is working on contingency plans for GEOL and GEOE students that plan on graduating on or before May 2021 to receive allowable substitutions using online instruction.

How will I know which events have been canceled? 

Information Updated as of: 5/26/20 11:05am

We will keep a list of canceled events on this website. Currently, these events have been canceled:  

  • All Intramural Events 
  • June - Athletic Youth Camps
  • June-July - All Middle/High School Summer Camps
  • July 8-12 - 5 Year Reunion postponed to July 7-11, 2021

How are you deciding which events to cancel? 

Information Updated as of: 3/17/20 3:30pm

Today and in the days and weeks ahead, we will be carefully reviewing events scheduled to take place on campus and following recommendations from the CDC and South Dakota Department of Health. If events are non-time critical or non-essential in nature, we may ask that they be held virtually or postponed. Updates will be added to this website as decisions are made.  


CARES Act Emergency Student Funding FAQs

How is South Dakota Mines implementing the CARES Act?

Information Updated as of: 5/27/20 3:30pm
On April 23, 2020, President Rankin signed the Certification and Agreement to participate in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act relative to Student Assistance funding.  By signing the document, he certified that the School of Mines has used, or intends to use, no less than 50 percent of the funds received under Section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES Act to provide Emergency Financial Aid Grants to students. More information on CARES Act funding to our university can be found at  https://www.sdsmt.edu/FinAid/CaresAct/.

What is the CARES Act?

Information Updated as of: 5/4/20 10:54am

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act signed into law March 28, 2020, provides almost $14 billion that will go directly to higher education institutions to support the costs of shifting classes online, and for grants to students for expenses incurred as a result of the disruption of campus operations due to COVID-19.

Am I qualified to receive CARES Act funding?

Information Updated as of: 5/26/20 3:20pm

Degree-seeking students who have been determined eligible for Federal Student Aid (Title IV) by filling the 2019-2020 FAFSA or will do so before June 30, 2020 and are not enrolled in online-only programs and were still enrolled at Mines at least through March 23, 2020, may apply and will be considered to receive funding, depending on need and available funds. If you received (or could be eligible if you file the 2019-2020 FAFSA before June 30, 2020) U.S. Federal Student Aid, such as Federal Direct Student Loans, Pell Grants, Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (SEOG), or Federal Work-Study (FWS), you are eligible to apply for these funds. International, undocumented as well as those enrolled in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) are not eligible.

I filed the 2019-2020 FAFSA and was only awarded a Federal Direct Student Loan (Subsidized or Unsubsidized), but I decided I didn’t want to borrow money. Can I still apply?

Information Updated as of: 5/4/20 10:54am

Yes.

What if I did not file a FAFSA for 2019-2020; can I apply now and be considered for assistance?

Information Updated as of: 5/4/20 10:54am

Yes. You need to file the 2019-2020 FAFSA as soon as possible at https://studentaid.gov/h/apply-for-aid/fafsa. Once we receive your FAFSA and you have completed the assistance application we will determine eligibility.

How do I apply and is there an application deadline?

Information Updated as of: 5/26/20 3:20pm

The application is available  here.  Applications need to be submitted as soon as possible and will be reviewed and CARES Act Student Assistance grants awarded until such time as funds are exhausted.

How is this different from the SDSM&T Student Emergency Fund?

Information Updated as of: 5/4/20 10:54am

Funding from the CARES Act is provided by the federal government. Funding from the Student Emergency Fund was raised by the SDSM&T Foundation. The two funds are completely separate.

If I’ve already received funding from the Foundation’s Student Emergency Fund, can I apply for these funds?

Information Updated as of: 5/4/20 10:54am

If those funds did not cover the financial needs you have because of circumstances directly related to the disruption of campus operations, you can apply for these funds. The application process is separate from the Student Emergency Fund. Apply here.

How will these funds be distributed?

Information Updated as of: 5/4/20 10:54am

Funds for qualified students will be funneled through the Mines Business Office and will be direct deposited into the bank account you have on file. If you have not previously signed up for direct deposit, please click here, then select “Direct Deposit Refunds”. If you do not have a bank account, a check will be mailed to your permanent address on file.

Who do I contact with questions?

Information Updated as of: 5/4/20 10:54am

Please contact David.Martin@sdsmt.edu if you have questions about the status of your application.


Dining

What is a one-stop meal station? 

Information Updated as of: 6/29/20 4:15pm

You will receive everything for your meal at one point of service.  There will be two meal options to choose from, one always the comfort meal (entrée, vegetable, side) and the other a rotation of the closed stations (grill, pizza, deli).  Each meal will include a pre-package side salad, whole fruit, dessert and a beverage. 

Is it still All-You-Care-to-Eat? 

Information Updated as of: 6/29/20 4:15pm

Yes.  For those who would like additional portions after visiting the one-stop meal station, we ask that you re-enter the line so we can continue serving all of our guests as providing great service to all of our guests is our priority.  The register will not charge an additional meal, but will let us know that you have already paid for your meal. 

Will there be seating? 

Information Updated as of: 6/29/20 4:15pm

There will be limited seating in the Hardrocker Café and Surbeck Ballroom.  Due to social distancing expectations, we are focusing on meals being taken to go. We highly encourage our guests to participate in the reusable to-go program for a one-time $10 fee.  We also have a disposable to-go option for $.50.

Are meal plans being adjusted? 

Information Updated as of: 6/29/20 4:15pm

The South Dakota Board of Regents have determined a pro-rated cost to the meal plans for fall semester.  The flex on each plan will remain as usual with the quantity of board meals associated with each plan adjusted to align with the pro-rated cost of the plan.


Health and Prevention

What steps is the state of South Dakota taking to prevent and reduce the spread of COVID-19?

Information Updated as of: 3/20/20 10:43am

Visit the state’s Department of Health website and review their FAQs. As of this posting, there are no confirmed cases in Rapid City. 

How can I protect myself from getting COVID-19?

Information Updated as of: 3/17/20 3:30pm

COVID-19 is believed to spread mainly from person-to-person, between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet) or through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. 

Precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19 are the same as those you would typically take during a normal flu season. 

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue or use your elbow to cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze. 
  • Avoid touching your face. 
  • If you take prescriptions, refill them now in the event you get sick 
  • Don’t panic.  For 84% of COVID-19 patients, the symptoms are mild. 
  • Conserve, but don’t hoard, protective products.  If you don’t have hand sanitizer, use soap and water. 
  • Stay home if you are sick with cold or influenza-type symptoms to minimize risk of transmission to others 
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces following CDC guidance for cleaning and disinfection 

What should I do if I think I might have COVID-19? 

Information Updated as of: 3/17/20 3:30pm

If you believe you may have been exposed to COVID-19 and you are experiencing symptoms, call your local healthcare provider. If you are in Rapid City, COVID-19 triage center at 1-800-279-1466 (available from 7:00am – 11pm). 

I’ve been asked to self-quarantine, what does that mean? 

Information Updated as of: 3/17/20 3:30pm

If you have been told you must self-quarantine, you need to stay home for 14 days from the time you left an area with widespread, ongoing community spread and practice social distancing. (See list of locations with an elevated risk of COVID-19 exposure.) 

Take these steps to monitor your health and practice social distancing: 

  1. Take your temperature with a thermometer two times a day and monitor for fever. Also watch for cough or trouble breathing.  
  2. Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds frequently.
  3. Stay home and avoid contact with others. Do not share meals, drinks, or utensils. Use your own bathroom if possible.  
  4. Do not go to work or school for this 14-day period. Discuss your work situation with your employer before returning to work.
  5. Do not take public transportation, taxis, or ride-shares during the time you are practicing social distancing.
  6. Avoid crowded places (such as shopping centers and movie theaters) and limit your activities in public.
  7. Keep your distance from others (about 6 feet or 2 meters).

Will masks be mandatory?

Information Updated as of: 6/3/20 8:45am

Wearing masks will be strongly encouraged and strongly recommended when in proximity with others and within indoor public spaces.

Will temperature checks be required?

Information Updated as of: 6/3/20 8:45am

Everyone will be asked to self-monitor their health. There may be some temperature checks in to-be-determined locations.

What will you ask of students in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19?

Information Updated as of: 6/3/20 8:45am

The entire campus community is being asked to do the following:

  • Practice social distancing
  • Wear masks when in public
  • Keep surfaces clean
  • Wash hands frequently
  • If you feel sick, stay home or go home (Fever of 100.4 or higher; a cough; shortness of breath or difficulty breathing; chills; repeated shaking with chills; muscle pain; headache; sore throat; new loss of taste or smell)

What is the COVID-19 status in South Dakota?

Information Updated as of: 7/2/20 12:15pm

Information about COVID-19 in South Dakota can be found at the state  Department of Health website.


If a Student Gets Sick

What happens if students get sick?

Information Updated as of: 6/3/20 8:45am

Students who become ill will be handled on an individual basis. Those who have the option to travel home will be encouraged to recover at home. Campus isolation accommodations are being coordinated for those who cannot recuperate at home (due to distance or a family member with a compromised immune system, etc.). Staff will work with students in isolation on campus by providing meals, trash disposal, laundry delivery, and other essential services to the room.

A student that identifies correlating symptoms will be advised to either quarantine at home, complete drive-thru testing, or be evaluated at the Respiratory Illness & COVID-19 Assessment Center at 2116 Jackson Blvd in Rapid City. This facility is open 7 days a week from 7:00am-7:00pm.

Students can present symptoms in the following ways:

  • COVID-19 triage line: (605) 755-1350
  • Student Health Nurse Line: (605) 519-4703 (available 7 days/week)
  • Via Telemedicine: (605) 755-2273
  • In person at Student Health or Urgent Care (show student ID)

Students who do not have personal transportation to these facilities can use local bus service, or in a severe situation, call 911. For more information on student health services, visit our website.

What happens with classwork if a student gets sick?

Information Updated as of: 6/3/20 8:45am

All lectures are being recorded and will be available online allowing a student to keep up with classwork while recovering. Students will need to stay in virtual contact with faculty as much as possible. Contact the Dean of Students as needed for processes and procedures.

How will I know if my student is hospitalized?

Information Updated as of: 6/3/20 8:45am

All of the same privacy policies (FERPA) apply. If a student is admitted they would have to give permission for any information to be disclosed and to whom.

How prepared is the university and the local healthcare system to deal with COVID-19 patients?

Information Updated as of: 6/3/20 8:45am

A student health office is located on campus in the Surbeck Center with healthcare staff available M-F during the Fall and Spring semesters. This service is in coordination with our local healthcare system, Monument Health. Information on student health services can be found on our website.

Monument Health is well-prepared to handle patients and contingency plans are in place if a surge of positive cases occurs in the community.


Residence Life

When can I move into the residence halls ?

Information Updated as of: 7/2/20 12:15pm

If you’ve completed the housing application and have received your room assignment, you can plan according to this schedule: 

July 29 – August 5 - Drop & Go (drop your items off in your room and return to campus at start of the semester.  Please schedule your drop-off time on the Campus Move In Page

August 15th - 17th - First year students move-in, reserving 18th for new student Rocker Ready orientation activities 
August 15 - 18 - Returning student move-in 
August 19 - Fall semester classes begin 

Will we be charged room and board rates through the end of finals even if we are not living there and do I have to move all of my belonging out even if I am returning in January?

Information Updated as of: 6/10/20 3:15pm

No, room and board charges will end before Thanksgiving. Students who are returning for spring semester classes do not need to move their belongings out of their rooms over the extended break.

Can we stay in the residence halls during the Thanksgiving Break and finals week?

Information Updated as of: 6/10/20 3:15pm

Students who live on campus and wish to stay for the Thanksgiving break and finals week will be able to do so (additional fees will be applied).

How will residence halls be managed to accommodate for social distancing and other CDC guidelines?

Information Updated as of: 6/3/20 8:45am

Student health and safety is our #1 concern and CDC and South Dakota Department of Health guidelines will be followed. Our plans include adjusting the number of persons per room, practicing social distancing, increased sanitization of spaces, and continued reminder of safe practices.

Will on-campus residency be required?

Information Updated as of: 6/3/20 8:45am

As required by the Board of Regents policy, all students who have graduated high school within the past two years are required to live on campus.

We are following the CDC’s guidelines for Institutions of Higher Education and have been addressing concerns raised by individual students with pre-existing healthcare needs. Persons with documented personal extenuating circumstances should contact Residence Life.

If on-campus housing accommodations are not available will students have to pay for housing?

Information Updated as of: 6/3/20 8:45am

No, they would not be charged a housing cost by the university. Off-campus housing options are available in Rapid City and would be handled personally.

How will moving into the residence halls be handled?

Information Updated as of: 6/3/20 8:45am

Our Residence Life staff is developing an extended move-in period that will allow for additional safety precautions while spreading out the number of people moving throughout the halls.


Schedule Change

Why was the decision made to have classes done by Thanksgiving?

Information Updated as of: 6/10/20 3:15pm

The decision to have classes done before Thanksgiving is due to the uncertainty of the COVID-19 virus. By finishing classes before Thanksgiving, this eliminates the need to travel back to campus and reduces the chances of a spike of COVID cases following a long break.

Is the semester accelerated now that classes will be done by Thanksgiving?

Information Updated as of: 6/10/20 3:15pm

Prior to the changes with the class schedule there were 71 days of class instruction. With the new schedule, classes are starting 3 days earlier and there will instruction on Labor Day, Native American Day and Veterans day bringing the total to 70 days of instruction. With this schedule, only one class day is lost. Finals will be online December 2-8, 2020 (Wednesday – Tuesday); this is the same number of days as in previous semesters. We realize the loss of three 3-day weekends is a change, but we feel this is the best course of action given the circumstances.


Travel 

What is the current university policy for international travel?

Information Updated as of: 6/5/20 3:30pm

All university-affiliated international travel is suspended until further notice.

If you have traveled to a Level 3 area, the CDC requires you to self-quarantine at home for 14 days from the time you left the area and practice social distancing.

Faculty, staff, students, and visitors who have had direct contact with a patient confirmed to have COVID-19 or with someone who is under care for suspected exposure to COVID-19 should not visit campus or attend university events within 14 days of such contact.

All non-essential personal travel to international destinations is strongly discouraged at this time.

The CDC is offering very explicit warnings about planned travel aboard cruise ships. In keeping with their guidance, Mines is advising against cruise ship travel. 

What about domestic travel?

Information Updated as of: 6/5/20 3:30pm

All non-essential, university-affiliated domestic travel is suspended until further notice. Travel deemed essential will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis by the appropriate VP or Executive Council member from your unit.  

What about in-state travel?

Information Updated as of: 6/5/20 3:30pm

Work related in-state travel, by a single traveler or cohort, may be resumed on a limited basis where it is crucial to the execution of projects and delivery of services. However, employees should evaluate the pandemic situation in the county or counties being visited and any restrictions in place for facilities in which the work will be done before traveling. Face coverings are highly recommended when in public areas during travel. Travel should be reviewed prior to the trip with the appropriate VP or Executive Council member from your unit.

What should I consider if I’m thinking about personal travel?

Information Updated as of: 6/5/20 3:30pm

The university encourages members of our community to think carefully about the risks of traveling while the COVID-19 outbreak continues to develop. Not only may there be a potential risk to your personal health, but there also may be additional travel restrictions imposed by many countries, including the United States. We ask all members of our campus community (faculty, staff, students) to limit their personal out-of-state travel, and to avoid the high-risk U.S. cities and states currently hardest hit by the COVID-19 outbreak. Please discuss travel plans with your supervisor.

This is a rapidly developing situation and even though a location may be accessible now, that could change during your trip. Airlines are limiting seating and altering flights and this also could impact your plans. 

Are out-of-state visitors allowed to travel to South Dakota at this time?

Information Updated as of: 6/5/20 3:30pm

As of this publication, South Dakota does not have any travel restrictions in place for visitors. Check safetravelusa.com/sd for up-to-date road information.  Also visit the CDC website for the latest recommendations.

Are there steps I should take upon returning from any type of travel?

Information Updated as of: 6/5/20 3:30pm

Apple, Inc. and the CDC partnered to develop this online symptom checker to assist with evaluating your symptoms.  South Dakota Mines strongly encourages each employee to go through the symptom checker checklist before coming to campus daily to ensure symptoms are not overlooked or ignored. The South Dakota Department of Health also provides this helpful tool to assist in assessing your symptoms. Employees must contact their supervisor prior to coming to campus if any of the following symptoms occur:

  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Repeated shaking with chills
  • Runny nose or new sinus congestion
  • Muscle pain
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • Fatigue
  • New GI symptoms
  • New loss of taste or smell

If you are experiencing these symptoms, or are overall just not feeling well, contact your healthcare provider and do not come to work. Notify your supervisor and develop a plan with them on utilizing sick leave or working remotely if applicable to your situation.


Visitors and Guests 

What is the difference between a visitor and a guest?

Information Updated as of: 7/2/20 12:15pm

Visitors are individuals, not employed by SD Mines, typically permitted to access public campus spaces, including outdoor areas, the Museum of Geology, the Rocker Shop Bookstore, and any campus retail locations during scheduled hours. Visitors are encouraged to follow university and local guidelines related to COVID-19. Signage will be posted in prominent locations on campus for visitors to review.

Guests are individuals, not employed by SD Mines, invited to campus to visit areas other than those outlined as public spaces above. Guests are the responsibility of their campus employee host. Campus hosts have authorized access to campus locations. Guests may include current students, potential students, alumni, authorized volunteers, and registered users including contracted personnel. Department specific policies may be implemented for guest access. 

What places are open on campus?

Information Updated as of: 7/2/20 12:15pm

The Admissions Office – see our visit page for visit options.

The Museum of Geology - capacity is limited to 34 people so if it is full when you arrive, you will be asked to wait outside.

The Rocker Shop Bookstore, located in the Surbeck Center is open, as well as the offices within this building.

These buildings are open during normal business hours only. 

I am a visitor to campus. What do I need to know?

Information Updated as of: 3/17/20 3:30pm

Whether or not you are exhibiting symptoms, visitors (including contractors and consultants) who have been in locations with an elevated risk of COVID-19 exposure within the past 14 days are not allowed to visit campus or attend university events. In addition, visitors who have had direct contact with a patient confirmed to have COVID-19 or with someone who is under care for suspected exposure to COVID-19 are not allowed to visit campus or attend university events within 14 days of such contact. You should contact the organizer of your campus event or program for further directions on rebooking your visit. We have alerted our consultants and contractors of these requirements. 


Informational Resources

If you believe you may have been exposed to COVID-19 and you are experiencing symptoms, call your local healthcare provider.

If you are in Rapid City, call COVID-19 triage center at 1-800-279-1466 (available from 7:00am – 11pm). 


South Dakota Mines is committed to being a diverse and inclusive community and supports all members of the university. COVID-19 affects all people regardless of age, background or area in which they live. As a STEM university, we set a high bar for our students, faculty and staff. Biased behaviors, stereotyping and discrimination are not acceptable. The university inclusion and diversity statement can be found here. Those who experience harassment or discrimination on campus can report it here.