Weekly President's Message

<6/24/20>

President Rankin's Weekly Update
Email sent from President Rankin

Dear Campus Community,

I want to thank everyone for their patience regarding the uncertainties of fall semester. We are meeting regularly to develop guidelines which will allow us to offer the best academic and campus experience for students, faculty, and staff while still adhering to CDC guidelines. We also plan to have separate town halls for students, faculty/staff, and parents. These will provide an opportunity to ask questions in a live format. In the meantime, check the FAQs on our COVID site which are updated regularly.

There have been several questions regarding housing and fall classes.

  • Room assignments and move-in information were sent to students June 18. Students can drop off items early during our “Drop & Go” dates July 29-Aug. 5. Please schedule your drop-off times on the Campus Move In page.
  • We are setting aside rooms to accommodate residence hall students who test COVID-19 positive and need to isolate at a campus location.
  • Fall classes will be offered face-to-face when possible. Some sessions may be offered online if the instructor is in an at-risk population.
  • Some classes will be completely online to accommodate larger class sizes, such as some of the larger introductory courses. Some classes will be a hybrid or mixed mode delivery, combining face-to-face instruction with online components. Synchronous video will be used as much as possible so students who are at-risk can join the lecture in real time. The same is true for labs.
  • Fall class schedules are being built now and will be finalized by July 15.

Our plans and actions will be guided by the evolving situation. Things could change before the start of the fall semester. We are fortunate that to date, western South Dakota has seen much lower rates of infection than other parts of the nation. To keep the number of cases low, we will need your cooperation.

  • We strongly encourage the wearing of masks. Research by the CDC and other public health organizations has shown that widespread use of masks in public places is one of the best tools to reduce the spread and stem this crisis.
  • We are also encouraging the use of COVID-19 symptom checking and tracking apps. 
    • Apple, Inc. and the CDC partnered to develop this online symptom checker to assist with evaluating your symptoms.
    • South Dakota Department of Health has developed the Care19 App that assists in location tracking and contact tracing.

The Rockers Return to Campus Plan has more details on the coming semester. It is continually being updated, so please keep checking back. In the coming weeks, the campus will begin opening some facilities and activities to the public. The current schedule is:

  • July 2: Placer Hall will be in use by Pennington County Emergency Management to support the fireworks at Mount Rushmore on July 3.
  • July 6: Museum of Geology, Rocker Shop, Surbeck Center, and the O’Harra Building’s main entrance open to the public during business hours.
  • July 6: Academic testing center opens by appointment only.
  • July 12: Volleyball camp begins.
  • July 13-29: Geology and geological engineering field camps staying in residence halls (this is a required camp for current geology and geological engineering students).
  • July 25: Go to Mines.
  • July 20-31: Various basketball day camps.

I understand these circumstances pose hardships for us all. We are asking each and every member of the South Dakota Mines community to rise to the occasion. This crisis highlights the importance of our mission. We need scientists, engineers, healthcare professionals, and business leaders who have the innovation, grit, and tenacity to help our country and world overcome the challenges we face.

Stay safe, everyone.

Warm Regards,

Jim Rankin

President 
South Dakota School of Mines and Technology 


<6/17/20>

President Rankin's Weekly Update
Email sent from President Rankin

Dear Campus Community,

We are continuing the return to campus transition over the summer. You can find the most recent updates highlighted in the Rockers Return to Campus Plan.

In the coming weeks, the campus will begin opening some facilities and activities to the public. The current schedule is: 

  • June 22: Wellness Center opens to those with ID card access
  • July 2: Placer Hall will be in use by Pennington County Emergency Management to support the fireworks at Mount Rushmore on July 3
  • July 6: Museum of Geology, Rocker Shop, Surbeck Center, and the O’Harra Building’s main entrance open to the public during business hours
  • July 6: Academic testing center opens by appointment only
  • July 12: Volleyball camp begins with no residence hall use
  • July 13-29: Geology and geological engineering field camps staying in residence halls
  • July 25: Go to Mines
  • July 26 & 30: Basketball Day Camps with no residence hall use

Supervisors will continue to work with employees to determine who returns to campus and who should continue to work remotely.

On August 19, classes will start in accordance with the Board of Regents’ schedule. Depending on the course size and content, courses will be completely in person, hybrid of in person and live streaming, or completely online. Last week’s letter to campus laid out important dates for the coming semester. Additional information will be provided as those details are confirmed. 

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to be a very fluid situation. If the crisis intensifies and there is a significant spread of infection in the local community, the university may make adjustments to the schedule and/or course delivery method.

Many of you know the university has spent the past year working on a rebranding effort. Our new brand will be revealed on August 3. More information on the virtual reveal event is coming soon.

Finally, a reminder that we are continually updating the FAQ website with your questions. Please send additional questions and feedback to President@sdsmt.edu.

Stay safe, everyone.

Warm Regards, 

Jim Rankin

President
South Dakota School of Mines and Technology


<6/10/20>

President Rankin's Weekly Update
Email sent from President Rankin

Dear Campus Community, 

I appreciate the responses from students, faculty, and staff to last week’s message regarding the racial tensions in our country and the schedule change for fall semester.

I have talked with many of you and appreciate your ideas on how we can improve inclusion efforts on campus. Please keep these coming. You may have noticed that we included a statement on racism and the value of inclusion on the university website here.We will continue to work together to bring reform to our campus and this nation. Our Center for Inclusion is a good resource on our campus for those who want to understand more about the efforts to foster a positive environment at South Dakota Mines for people of any background or identity.   

It is likely that many of you have seen that STEM researchers around the world are taking part in activities today, June 10, aligned with the website and hashtag #ShutDownSTEM. The day is dedicated to education, action, and healing.

The leadership team is working on answers to your questions about the fall semester, so please watch for updates to the FAQs on the COVID website. Many of you have also asked about dates for the adjusted fall semester schedule. Here are some important dates to add to your calendars. 

  • July 15                Fall 2020 class schedules will be finalized
  • August 15-17     Freshmen and first-time students move in
  • August 15-18     Returning students move in
  • August 18          New student convocation
  • August 19          Classes begin

Virtual orientation sessions will be available for parents and new students starting in July. We will continue to share information as details are finalized. 

I understand that there may be some concern about the adjusted fall schedule. As you know, COVID has changed everything, and our goal is to maximize valuable in-person educational experiences while following CDC guidelines and social distancing recommendations that ensure safety. This is not an easy task, and your cooperation is vital to make this a success. We are also not alone in this challenge - many universities around the nation are working towards a fall opening with a similar end-of-semester schedule after Thanksgiving.   

Success at South Dakota Mines is built on hard work. The world we live in today calls us all to take actions above and beyond the norm. We know that Hardrockers will use their grit, determination, and perseverance to overcome these challenges. 

We value your input. Please continue to send your questions and feedback to president@sdsmt.edu

Stay safe, everyone. 

Warm Regards, 

Jim Rankin, PhD PE
President
South Dakota School of Mines and Technology


<6/3/20>

President Rankin's Weekly Update
Email sent from President Rankin

Dear Campus Community,

The past week our country has seen a great deal of sadness, discontent, and division taking its toll on communities large and small. Our hearts go out to the family and friends of George Floyd, others affected by his death, and people affected by riots during this difficult time. Rapid City has experienced peaceful protests, and we will work with the community and local law enforcement in any way we can to help maintain peace and bring healing.

As a public university, we remain committed to serve as a model for equity and inclusion. We believe in the power of a STEM education to change lives and make the world a better place. One of our campus values is inclusion because we believe diverse science and engineering teams operating in inclusive environments yield the very best results. We remain optimistic that we will attract students of all backgrounds and identities who want to make lasting change in our nation and the world. We will support them by providing an academic experience that allows them to embrace and learn from each other’s differences as a pathway to make life better for all.

Amidst the unrest and tragic events of this past week, we are committed to a better future, which includes ongoing work to make the campus a safe and productive place in the era of COVID-19. The South Dakota Board of Regents has  announced plans for a new fall schedule that begins three days early on Aug. 19.

To provide for required instructional time in a condensed semester and to further reduce travel, three holidays—Labor Day, Native American Day, and Veterans Day—will become class days. With classes in session on those dates, universities will plan programming to appropriately recognize the holidays. Employees will be given time off later in the year in lieu of these holidays. 

The Thanksgiving break will begin on Wednesday, Nov. 25 and conclude on Sunday, Nov. 29. After the break, students have two non-class days available to prepare for final exams, which will take place online Dec. 2-8. Students will not return to campus following Thanksgiving. All university campuses plan to be closed between Christmas and New Year’s Day to facilitate deep cleaning and other preparations for the spring semester. A decision on the status of our fall commencement is coming soon.

I hope you have all had a chance to look over the  Return To Campus Plan that provides guidance for staff, faculty, and students as we return to campus this summer and prepare for the fall semester. Our emergency management team and the Rockers Return Task Force is closely monitoring COVID-19 spread in the local community and will help guide university decisions as appropriate. The final town hall meeting for faculty and staff is scheduled for 10 a.m. Thursday, June 4, via Zoom. We are also addressing questions in our  COVID-19 FAQ which is updated regularly.

Our virtual Go to Mines event is taking place Friday, June 12.  If you know a young person who would make a good Hardrocker, please share this link with them:  https://www.sdsmt.edu/visit/.

Stay safe, everyone.

Warm Regards,

Jim Rankin, PhD PE
President
South Dakota School of Mines and Technology


<5/22/20>

President Rankin's Weekly Update
Email sent from President Rankin

Dear Faculty and Staff,

As I mentioned in my weekly update message on Wednesday, the campus will start transitioning back to a more normal operation starting on June 1. Many of your colleagues will continue to work remotely until we set up proper social distancing protocols in office spaces. The campus will be closed to the public for the month of June and buildings will be locked, but accessible through card access (note: your ID card allows you to access the outer door to all campus buildings). Visits by South Dakota Mines staff to other work areas should be kept to an absolute minimum. Consider calling, e-mailing, or hosting a videoconference. Each department should include visitor protocols in department-specific plans.

On Thursday, the Board of Regents approved the Return to Campus plans of all state universities. You can read  our plan here. HR has compiled a Return to Workplace Guide for you that is  available here. Additionally, you can request remote work if you or an immediate family member fall into certain high-risk categories, detailed on the “Remote Work Request” form found  here. If they have not done so already, your supervisor will be contacting you soon to discuss your department’s return-to-campus plans.

As I reminded you on Wednesday, there is an increase in positive COVID-19 cases in Pennington County. So, please, as we all prepare to return to campus on June 1, continue to observe the following protocols: practice social distancing, wear masks when in public, keep surfaces clean, wash your hands frequently, and  if you feel sick, stay home or go home, and let your supervisor know.

I know you have questions and you can find the answers in the documents mentioned above, as well as on our website. Additionally, we plan to have a series of virtual town halls, open to faculty and staff, to give you a chance to address any of your concerns. These virtual town halls will take place through Zoom. Three meetings are planned. You are encouraged to attend any town hall that suits your schedule best. Dates and times are Wednesday, May 27, 2020 at 11:00 a.m.; Thursday, May 28, 2020 at 3:00 p.m.; and Thursday, June 4, 2020 at 10:00 a.m. Everyone will receive Outlook invitations for these meetings from HR.

It looks like a beautiful Memorial Day weekend.  Stay safe and enjoy your families!

Warm Regards,

Jim Rankin, PhD PE
President
South Dakota School of Mines and Technology


<5/20/20>

President Rankin's Weekly Update
Email sent from President Rankin

Dear Campus Community,

We are fortunate that the numbers of COVID-19 cases in western South Dakota remain significantly lower than in other parts of the United States. However, Pennington County is now experiencing an uptick in positive cases. Many in the Mines community may know someone who has tested positive or who may have been exposed. As we prepare to return to campus on June 1, this is a good reminder to follow protocols for social distancing, wearing masks, disinfecting surfaces, and washing your hands frequently to help reduce the spread of COVID-19.

The South Dakota Department of Health has informed a campus employee that they have been in contact with a confirmed COVID-19 case. This employee is in self-quarantine. The campus has done contact tracing and informed those who have been in the proximity of this individual.

Anyone who believes they have been exposed to COVID-19 or who is experiencing symptoms should call their local healthcare provider. In Rapid City, the COVID-19 triage center can be reached at 1-800-279-1466 (available from 7 a.m. – 11 p.m.).

We appreciate employees who self-report and we will respect the privacy of any individuals who come forward. Self-reporting allows us to do proper contact tracing, which is a critical part of reducing the spread.

The mandate that non-essential state employees work remotely will expire on May 31.  During June, the campus will start the transition back to a more normal operation. Social distancing recommendations in office spaces will require many to still work remotely. The campus will remain closed to the public in June. You will receive more information shortly when the campus COVID-19 Task Force recommendations are released. More information will also be coming out of this week’s Board of Regents meeting. Please watch for another email from me on Friday with updates.

Please continue to monitor your email. Jerilyn Roberts sent a message to campus on Monday regarding supplies that Facilities Services will make available to university departments after June 1. Kelsey O’Neill has a communication planned for today to guide supervisors on human resources questions. 

Finally, a message for students: CARES Act funds are still available for those who are Title IV eligible. We encourage everyone who is eligible to apply. Read more information on eligibility and how to apply on our FAQ.

Stay safe, everyone.

Warm Regards,

Jim Rankin, PhD PE
President
South Dakota School of Mines and Technology


<4/16/20>

President Rankin's Weekly Update
Email sent from President Rankin

Dear Campus Community,

Some good news - the South Dakota Mines Foundation’s Student Emergency Fund has topped $200,000 thanks to an additional $50,000 from the Student Senate. This emergency funding is going to students whose finances were affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. The ongoing generosity exhibited by the Hardrocker family in this crisis is heartwarming. You can read more about this fundraising effort here

Additionally, refunds to students for unused meal plans and housing are being processed. We hope this can help with financial shortfalls students may be experiencing. I want to again thank all of the faculty and staff who are working so hard to meet student needs in this challenging time. Our Student Success Center and counseling services also remain available to any students in need.  

The CARES act approved by Congress provided funds to help offset the financial impact of COVID-19 on universities. South Dakota Mines will receive nearly $1.5M. At least half of these funds are designated as emergency financial aid grants to students. The campus is working with the Board of Regents office on the allocation process and will provide more information soon. While these funds do not cover all of our students’ financial needs, we are very appreciative to Congress and the South Dakota delegation for providing these funds. 

An email was sent to students last week to help answer questions about withdrawals, academic probation, and impact of S/U grading on federal financial aid. If your students have questions, they can find the communication we’ve sent on these topics and other issues here.

The Board of Regents announced previously that all classes this summer will be online, but as of now we are planning on returning to in-person classes this fall. Some departments are adding more summer courses. For many students, this summer maybe a great time to take some extra classes and get ahead. We are encouraging students to check the offerings and see what is available. 

Work is continuing to aid the COVID-19 response effort in the community. I know many staff and faculty are putting their own projects on hold to help with these efforts, and I commend them for their hard work. You can read more about all that is now under way here.

Just a reminder, our FAQ is constantly being updated with the latest information. Be sure to check out www.sdsmt.edu/covid-19 for answers to your questions.

Thank you all again for your efforts helping the university and our students navigate this crisis. Though many challenges remain, I am certain we will recover and be stronger than ever when we return.

Take care of yourselves.

Warm Regards,

Jim Rankin, PhD PE

President
South Dakota School of Mines and Technology


<4/9/20>

Answers to Questions About Withdrawals, Academic Probation, and Impact of S/U Grading on Federal Financial Aid
Email sent from President Rankin

Dear South Dakota Mines students: 

Many questions are being asked about the impacts of the BOR Alternate Grading Policy for Spring 2020 ( attached). Please know that we are working hard to gather and answer all your questions. Next week, you will receive further information on how the Alternate Grading Policy impacts scholarships, the number of course attempts, and transfer credits once policies on those topics are finalized. Meanwhile, please help us help you by reading this note and sending us questions and comments on the policies attached. Unless you are asked to contact Financial Aid or the Registrar’s Office in the bullet points below, please direct questions and comments about undergraduate courses or credits to: Kate.Alley@sdsmt.edu. Please direct questions about graduate education to: Maribeth.Price@sdsmt.edu

  • If a student requests that an A, B, or C grade be converted to an S (satisfactory), no “grade” is calculated into the GPA. However, any S grade will allow a student to meet a prerequisite of “C or better.”
  • If a D is converted to a U (unsatisfactory), no “grade” is calculated into the GPA and no credit is given.
  •  
  • If the class you are currently taking this Spring 2020 semester was done to replace an F or a D for the purposes of raising your GPA, an S (satisfactory) will replace the D or F from the GPA, but neither grade (the past D or F –or—the S) will count towards the GPA.
  •  
  • No undergraduate students will be placed on academic probation or academic suspension as a result of grades earned during the Spring 2020 semester ( see attached Academic Probation and Suspension policy for details.)
  • Undergraduate students who receive letter grades instead of S/U can get off probation if their GPA meets or exceeds “good academic standing” requirements as shown in the attached Academic Probation and Suspension policy.
  • No student withdrawal from a course taken in the Spring 2020 semester will count against the six-withdrawal maximum. Students who withdraw from a course after the census date during the Spring 2020 semester will receive a W and not a WFL, even if the withdrawal otherwise would qualify for a WFL. See attached Maximum Withdrawals policy for details.
  • For students receiving Federal Student Aid of any type (grants, loans, work-study), an S (satisfactory) or a U (satisfactory) must still count toward attempted credit hours. Students with questions about their calculations for Federal Student Aid Satisfactory Academic Progress should email: financialaid@sdsmt.edu.

Thank you for working with South Dakota Mines to ensure you complete the semester well.

Best,

Jim Rankin, PhD PE

President
South Dakota School of Mines and Technology


<4/3/20>

Alternate Grading Options for Spring 2020
Email sent from President Rankin

Dear South Dakota School of Mines Students and Faculty:

In an attempt to minimize the impact of COVID-19, the South Dakota Board of Regents has issued a policy for Alternate Grading Options for Spring 2020 Semester. This note explains the basics. For more detail, please see the attachment:  BOR Alternate Grading Policy Spring 2020

  • Any course that already uses S (satisfactory) and U (unsatisfactory) grading for this semester will stick with that grading system.
  • Faculty members will assign Spring 2020 grades according to the grading policies detailed in the course syllabus at the start of the Spring 2020 semester.
  • Once grades are assigned and students have an opportunity to see their grades, each student can decide whether to request that a grade be converted to the S/U scale. The decision must be made between May 4th, 2020 and May 18th, 2020. Each student (undergraduate or graduate) can make this decision on a course-by-course basis.  Here are the choices:
    • Option 1: Keep your assigned grade, have it counted in your GPA, and do nothing.
    • Option 2: If you earned an A, B, or  C in a course, request that it be converted to an S (satisfactory) knowing that full credit will be assigned for the course. The S designation will not affect your GPA.
    • Option 3: If you earned a D in a course, request that it be converted into a U (unsatisfactory) to avoid having the D used in the calculation of your GPA. Note that a U means no credit is earned for the course.
  • All F grades—and for graduate students, all FAIL designations, will be automatically converted to a U (unsatisfactory). No credit will be earned for the course; however, student stress will be eased by knowing that any F grade or fail designation earned in Spring 2020 semester will not be calculated into GPA.
  • Once a student requests a grade conversion, the decision is final and cannot be reversed. Students are responsible for reviewing grades and making requests between May 4 and May 18. An online, system-wide form is being created for submitting grade conversion requests and will be available by May 4.
  • For graduate students, the information found in the SD Mines Catalog Graduate Education Section V.3. Pass/Fail Option for Graduate Students is suspended in part. Securing the consent of the major professor and graduate student advisory committee is not needed to have a FAIL grade converted to a U (unsatisfactory) in order to keep the fail designation from being incorporated into GPA.
  • Students pursuing a Minor in Military Science cannot ask that their grades in any Spring 2020 course be switched to the S / U option because of unique disciplinary requirements. Military science students cannot request grade conversions to S or U.
  • Regarding eligibility for the Dean’s List, earning an F or converting the F to a U (unsatisfactory) will disqualify a student from Dean’s List eligibility. Converting an A, B, or C to an S (satisfactory) will NOT disqualify a student from Dean’s List eligibility. A student who keeps his or her A, B, C, or D grades will have them count in Dean’s List GPA calculations.
  • Students enrolled as dual-credit or high school/university concurrent credit students can request exercise the grade conversion choices listed above. All such students need to check with their school counselors/advisors to make sure that S/U grades will comply with local school district policies. 

This policy is designed to ease stress on students during this public health crisis. The University has full confidence in SD Mines faculty members and knows they are doing their utmost to ensure students can complete the semester.

Questions pertaining to graduate credits or courses should be directed to: Maribeth.Price@sdsmt.edu.

Questions pertaining to undergraduate credits or courses should be directed to: Kate.Alley@sdsmt.edu.

Best,

Jim Rankin, PhD PE

President
South Dakota School of Mines and Technology


<4/2/20>

No tuition increase for 2020-2021
Email sent from President Rankin

Dear Hardrockers,

First and foremost, I want each of you to know that I’m thinking about you during this challenging time. I know all of you must be dealing with anxiety and uncertainty as you adjust to online classes and the realities of our current situation. Just know that we will get through this, Hardrockers! Stay strong and focused. And most importantly, stay safe.

Because we know you are facing unprecedented challenges right now, a decision has been made to hold our tuition rates/fees for next academic year at their current rate. By holding rates steady, we hope to give you a bit of relief as you plan your future. A small increase in housing will be applied only to Rocker I, Rocker II and our “doubles as singles,” as those are our most costly housing facilities to operate.

This tuition rate will include summer and fall 2020 and spring 2021 terms. If you have any questions about this, please email president@sdsmt.edu.

I can’t wait to see you all back on campus next year, and I’m proud of how our Hardrocker family has stepped up in so many ways. There has never been a time when the world needs scientists and engineers more, Hardrockers. Your future is bright!

Take care of yourselves and stay Hardrocker Strong!


<3/24/20>

South Dakota Mines Moves All Classes Online in Response to COVID-19
Email sent from President Rankin

As COVID-19 further impacts this state and region, the South Dakota Board of Regents announced effective immediately, all public university courses will continue by remote delivery through the remainder of the spring semester. Face-to-face instruction will not resume this semester.

“The Board of Regents has made a very difficult decision during an extraordinary time in our history,” says Jim Rankin, president of South Dakota School of Mines & Technology. “The coronavirus pandemic has challenged us in countless ways, but the health and safety of our students, staff, faculty, and community is paramount. We understand the disappointment people must feel, but we will get through this together.”

Because state officials anticipate an increase in COVID-19 infections for at least the next eight weeks, spring 2020 commencement ceremonies will be postponed. Further details will be shared as new plans are confirmed.

Our priority is to ensure that instruction continues through the remainder of the spring semester. If a student decides to withdraw completely from the university on or before March 28, the student may qualify for a refund. More information is available at https://www.sdsmt.edu/Emergency/COVID-19-FAQ/#Refunds

South Dakota Mines will work with students to retrieve their belongings from the residence halls, facilitating a move-out process that allows for appropriate social distancing, as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. More information is available at https://www.sdsmt.edu/Emergency/COVID-19-FAQ/#Housing

All campus events have been canceled through May 15, and all campus buildings and facilities will remain closed to the public and to students.

“We urge our students, faculty and staff to adhere to the recommendations of the CDC and stay home. Social distancing will play a critical role in controlling the spread of this virus,” says Rankin. “It’s important to remember that this isn’t forever. By making these sacrifices now, we speed the progress toward a return to normal. And we very much look forward to having our Hardrockers back on campus next year.”

To learn more about South Dakota Mines response to COVID-19, visit sdsmt.edu/emergency. Students with questions or concerns may email president@sdsmt.edu.


<3/19/20>

Campus continues remote operations in accordance with Governor's Order
Email sent from President Rankin

Dear Campus Community:

South Dakota Mines will continue suspension of campus operations through March 27 per Governor Noem’s updated order (2020-06). 

Employees should follow the guidelines listed below. Each unit’s vice president will provide guidance regarding essential and non-essential personnel.  

Essential Personnel

  • Essential personnel who must perform their work on site should report to work as scheduled unless directed otherwise.
  • Essential personnel that are able to perform their job duties remotely must work remotely.

Non-essential Personnel

  • Non-essential personnel should not physically report to campus and are ordered to work remotely, if possible.  

All campus buildings and facilities will remain closed to the public and to students. Several student services are available online including the library, counseling, and the career center. 

At this time, there is no change to the online class schedule. Mines will continue with the plan to offer classes remotely March 23-April 3. The BOR and presidents will review this plan on Friday, March 27, to determine if this should be extended.  

Again, we strongly recommend students, faculty, and staff remain off campus. If necessary, faculty and staff may come in to get materials, record lectures, or upload documents for online delivery and to ensure items get mailed, processed, etc. but please check with your supervisor before coming to campus. Student organizations and teams, as well as departments, are encouraged to meet virtually and should not come to campus for meetings.

We appreciate everyone’s patience as this situation continues to unfold. Remember to check the FAQs on our website for information and updates.

Best, 

Jim Rankin, PhD PE

President
South Dakota School of Mines and Technology


<3/16/20>

South Dakota Mines Goes to Online Classes March 23-April 3
Email sent from President Rankin

Like other universities around the nation, South Dakota School of Mines & Technology is taking steps to reduce the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19). Effective March 23, 2020, the university will transition to online delivery for all courses for a period of two weeks. Course delivery will occur primarily through D2L and Zoom. Given the fluid situation and recent guidelines from the CDC, the Board of Regents and campus presidents will review the situation weekly and decide whether to extend the online delivery for an additional time. We plan to allow faculty, staff, and students a two-week notice before face-to-face classes resume.

This week, March 15-21, we have suspended most campus operations per Governor Noem and directed non-essential personnel to work remotely. On-campus student activities such as CAMP projects, EPICS projects, senior design projects are also suspended this week. The campus will resume operations on March 22. Students should not resume campus activities until further notice.

If you are currently off-campus, we strongly recommend you stay where you are, including those living off-campus in Rapid City, until in-person classes resume. If you are living on campus and can return home, we recommend you do this. Students who have no other options can remain in the residence halls. Please ensure your options do not compromise the health of loved ones who may be in a high-risk category.

Although classes will not be taught face-to-face in the coming weeks, campus will open on March 22 to ensure South Dakota Mines is able to fulfill its educational and research mission. Faculty, staff, and researchers should report to work as usual on March 23. Keep in mind the latest CDC guidelines and general precautions to remain healthy (do not come to campus if you are sick).

Student services are available and university offices can be contacted via email and phone. Check the online directory for contact information. Course instructors will be in contact with students concerning updated plans for any exams previously scheduled for March 16-20, along with completion of laboratory and project-based coursework, and any changes to the syllabus.

Again, this schedule change will not affect the remaining semester calendar which will conclude at the end of finals week, which is May 8, 2020.

We are facing a situation that is unprecedented in recent history. We recognize the move to online classes poses challenges for many. We will strive to provide a top-quality education to all students despite these challenges. As scientists and engineers, we pride ourselves in tackling difficult problems. We hope the Mines community will come together, be patient, and work to build the best outcome possible in this difficult time.

Please remember things are changing quickly. Thank you for your patience as we assess the situation, make decisions, and communicate to campus. Stay up to date on campus announcements at  https://www.sdsmt.edu/emergency/


<3/13/20>

Campus moves to remote operations in accordance with Governor's Order
Email sent from President Rankin 

Dear Campus Community:

Although there are no presumptive or confirmed cases of COVID-19 on campus, SD Mines business operations will be conducted remotely from 12:00 am on Sunday, March 15 to 11:59 pm Saturday, March 21 in accordance with Governor Noem’s Executive Order 2020-05. As a result, all campus buildings will be closed to the public. All work-related, out-of-state travel scheduled during the timeframe above is prohibited.

Employees should follow the guidelines listed below. Each unit’s vice president will provide guidance regarding essential and non-essential personnel.  

Essential Personnel

  • Essential personnel who must perform their work on site should report to work as scheduled unless directed otherwise.
  • Essential personnel that are able to perform their job duties remotely must work remotely.

Non-essential Personnel

  • Non-essential personnel should not physically report to campus and are ordered to work remotely, if possible.  

Employees working remotely next week should take what they need before they leave today. Please plan to check office voicemails frequently or forward office phones to cell phones. All employees not taking administrative leave should report hours as normal. 

Faculty need to continue preparing for online course delivery from home if possible. All ITS training for D2L and Zoom will continue as scheduled and will be offered via Zoom.

Research activity can continue as needed. 

Students who are living in the residence halls will continue to have access to dining services.  

All admissions and athletic visits for next week have been cancelled. 

Please continue to reference our coronavirus resource page at https://www.sdsmt.edu/emergency/and monitor your email for additional updates, which will be shared as often as possible.


<3/12/2020>

University COVID-19 response
Email sent from President Rankin
 

Dear Students, Faculty and Staff, 

COVID-19 is causing challenges for universities and campus communities that we all are working to address. It’s important that we are patient and that we pull together to help one another. Mines has been closely following the latest developments and information about COVID-19 while working through plans for managing our operations forward to reduce the risk to our community and our region. I want to be up front and say that we do not yet have all the answers to the questions you likely have at this point. Please check the coronavirus emergency webpage regularly for updates. We will also communicate via email when new developments arise.

As you know, there have been confirmed cases in South Dakota; however, there are no presumptive or confirmed cases on campus.Our primary goal is to minimize the impact of COVID-19 to the health of our community. We will also strive to deliver on our education mission. We want our students to complete the spring semester and to stay on schedule to graduation.

UNIVERSITY ACTIONS

SPRING BREAK EXTENSION & UNIVERSITY OPERATIONS

Spring break will be extended to March 20 and there will be no academic instruction during that time period. The extension will provide additional time to assess our academic and campus operations. Classes will resume on Monday, March 23. We strongly urge students to stay home and not return to campus until then. However, we realize some students may not have an alternative. For these students, the residence halls and dining services will reopen at 8:00 am on March 15. Additional information will be sent directly to students living in the residence halls and apartments. 

This schedule change will not affect the remaining semester calendar which will conclude at the end of finals week, which is May 8, 2020.

The university will remain open. Faculty, staff, and researchers should continue to report to work as usual, keeping in mind general precautions to remain healthy (do not come to work if you’re sick). Human Resources will send additional information.

At this time, ITS and academic departments are preparing for online course delivery if that option becomes necessary. These efforts include ensuring that we have the tools, training, and support needed to move seamlessly to this mode of course delivery. 

TRAVEL RESTRICTIONS AND GUIDANCE

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

Anyone (faculty, staff, students) traveling from a high-risk area or country subject to a Level 2 or 3 Travel Health Notice from the CDC is required to self-quarantine for 14 days off campus prior to returning to Mines.

All non-essential, university-affiliated domestic travel is suspended until further notice. Travel deemed essential will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis. For questions about what qualifies as essential and non-essential travel, please contact the appropriate VP from your unit.

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. As of this writing, the CDC is reporting the highest reported infection numbers in the states of California, Washington and New York.

All non-essential personal travel to international destinations is strongly discouraged at this time. As stated, anyone traveling from a country subject to a Level 2 or 3 Travel Health Notice from the CDCwill be required to self-quarantine for 14 days off campus prior to returning to Mines. All travelers returning from other international destinations are asked to self-quarantine off campus for 14 days prior to returning to Mines. This will allow time to assess your health situation and symptoms, as well as emerging information on possible infections connected to your travel destinations, flights and more. 

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. 

If you have any issues, students can contact the Dean of Students and faculty/staff can contact Human Resources.

CAMPUS EVENTS AND VISITORS

Today and in the days and weeks ahead, we will be carefully reviewing events scheduled to take place on campus. If these events are non-time critical or non-essential in nature, we may ask that they be held virtually or postponed. We will provide a daily update as decisions are made.

As previously stated, visitors traveling from a country subject to a Level 2 or 3 Travel Health Notice from the CDC will be required to self-quarantine for 14 days off campus prior to visiting Mines.

If you have an event planned that is not included on the university calendar or was not scheduled via the scheduling office, please contact the scheduling office so it can be reviewed.

For cancellations, see www.sdsmt.edu/emergency

PRESERVING YOUR HEALTH—AND OUR COMMUNITY’S WELL-BEING

PREVENTION

Previous campus updates have detailed the ways in which we can individually and collectively take steps to help our community stay as healthy as possible. Please continue to follow these simple, basic practices, which include frequent handwashing, covering your cough with a tissue or inner elbow, and staying home when sick. On campus, Facilities Services has been doing a deep clean of all common areas and classrooms.

IF YOU’RE NOT FEELING WELL

If you have been exposed to COVID-19, have the flu or a fever, please do not report to work. Human Resources will be sending information soon.

As stated above, our primary goal is to minimize the impact of COVID-19 to the health of our community and to our ability to deliver on our education mission. I ask all of you to commit to doing what is needed to meet that goal, recognizing that it will likely cause disruption to and deviation from our normal routines and practices.

Thank you for your attention, care and concern. Please continue to reference our coronavirus resource page at https://www.sdsmt.edu/emergency/and monitor your email for additional updates, which will be shared as often as possible.


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.