Employee Re-Entry 

The Black Hills State University Employee Re-Entry COVID-19 Task Force was formed to help coordinate the process to reopen and fully staff university offices to provide a business-as-usual environment based on recommended safety precautions. Task Force team members represent Human Resources, Facility Services, Athletics, BHRC, Office of International Relations and Public Safety.

Resources accessed and utilized for this report include the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, South Dakota Department of Health, Monument Health, South Dakota Board of Regents Human Resources, and BOR Policy Manual.

The University has a responsibility to consider how best to decrease the spread of COVID-19 and lower its impact in the workplace. Utilizing the resources stated above, The Employee Re-Entry Task Force makes the following recommendations for a June 1, 2020, reintegration of non-essential employees to campus.


Studies by the CDC have shown that employers and employees can be effective in preventing and slowing the spread of COVID-19. BHSU will continue to develop a response plan which considers the level of disease transmission in our community/region as well as our readiness to protect the safety and health of the campus community. The University will revise this response plan as needed.

Faculty/Staff Updates


Plans are being developed for the return to work and for Fall 2020 classes on campus

Two campus Task Forces are developing plans for employees to return to work and for the return of students this fall. As this is a fluid situation, details are still being determined and may change as conditions change.

Employees will return to work with a phased-in approach. The first phase, which begins June 1, will include all employees designated essential and any employees that have been utilizing Administrative Leave during the remote working period. The second phase will be bringing back approximately 30 percent of those employees who fall in a non-essential category of work on June 15th with an additional 30 percent reporting to work by July 1. As non-essential employees come back in phases, some will continue to work remotely, but all employees will be back to work no later than Aug. 1. Please check with your supervisor to determine your return to work date.

Melissa Hart, director of Human Resources, notes that any employees who fall in to a high-risk category would have the option to self-certify their at-risk condition with HR and their supervisor. Human Resources is developing a request form, with the BOR office, that will be available in the very near future.

As you return to campus, you will be expected to practice social distancing, conduct self-health checks on a regular basis, and be responsible for routinely cleaning your work space. It is highly recommended that all employees wear face masks while on campus. Supervisors are ensuring that work stations have the appropriate distancing and that hand sanitizer and cleaning supplies are available. Specifics on returning to work will be finalized next week and training will occur for all employees as they return to work.  

Studies by the CDC have shown that employers and employees can be effective in preventing and slowing the spread of COVID-19. Black Hills State University will continue to develop a response plan which takes into account the level of disease transmission in our community/region as well as our readiness to protect the safety and health of the campus community. 

Have a great Memorial Day weekend and we are looking forward to seeing you on campus.

President Nichols


Update on remote work and administrative leave

In coordination with Governor Noem’s Executive Order 2020 - 12, the South Dakota Board of Regents will extend remote work through May 31st, and if we are unable to accommodate remote work then non-essential employees will be granted paid administrative leave. Essential employees should continue to work as scheduled and in line with the workplace guidelines provided, which may include reporting to the workplace if essential functions cannot be adequately performed remotely. As in previous weeks, supervisors will be evaluating the work that must be completed and will communicate with employees on essential or non-essential status, and expectations on reporting to work to ensure essential functions of the institution are being met, which may change from day to day. In addition, your supervisor will communicate with you if there are additional duties that require your assistance during this period of time. 

This is an evolving situation, so in the event that the landscape surrounding COVID-19 changes, the Board of Regents may adjust this plan as necessary. We will make every effort to keep you timely informed as this fluid situation continues to evolve. Updates surrounding COVID-19 can also be found on this webpage. Please monitor and review this site and related communications you receive. 

We understand that the spread of COVID-19 may impact you and your families whether related to work changes, school and daycare closures, or illness. Should these things happen, please discuss options for leave usage with your supervisor and the BHSU Human Resources Office at 642-6549.   

Thank you for your flexibility as this situation continues to evolve.  

President Nichols

Good afternoon,

As you know, South Dakota has its first confirmed cases of COVID-19.  Black Hills State University and the Board of Regents are working closely with the SD Department of Health and other agencies to ensure that we have a safe and healthy workplace.  We will make every effort to keep you informed as this fluid situation continues to evolve. Our goal is to communicate effectively, and work together to ensure we can do our jobs and care for our families.

The University leadership and Board of Regents have elected to extend the break for students from classes through March 20, 2020, to allow for further assessment of the COVID-19 situation, and prepare for alternate operations on campus should the need arise. Faculty and staff should report to work as scheduled.   

We understand that the spread of COVID-19 may impact you and your families whether related to work changes, school and daycare closures, or illness. Should these things happen, please discuss options for leave usage and/or working remotely with your supervisor and human resources office.  

Success will require all of us to be flexible, patient, and understanding as the situation develops. Please communicate with your supervisor and human resources office if you think you have been exposed to COVID-19 or have recently traveled to a highly impacted area. If you are immune compromised or believe you or a member of your household may have the virus or is diagnosed with COVID-19, please work with your medical provider to determine next steps and communicate your needs with your supervisor and the human resources office.

In response to this health event, all non-essential international travel will be cancelled, and domestic travel will be limited and evaluated on a case by case basis, until further notice. We will continue to work with the Department of Health to provide guidance on decisions related to travel for work and protocols for return.  If necessary, we are committed to supporting our employees and intend to utilize short-term remote work strategies where possible for individual positions and circumstances. 

Please take common sense steps to limit the COVID-19 virus’ impact on you and others:

  • Stay home when you are sick
  • Wash your hands frequently with warm, soapy water for at least 20 seconds
  • Avoid touching your face
  • Cover your mouth with tissues when you sneeze and immediately discard them in the trash
  • Avoid people who are sick with respiratory symptoms
  • Frequently clean touched surfaces

If you experience symptoms (ex. cough, fever, or shortness of breath), please call your primary care provider before going to the clinic or another facility. If you do not have a primary care provider, we recommend utilizing telemedicine options included in our health plan. The state health plan will cover 100% of the costs for lab tests related to COVID-19 diagnosis. It will also cover medical expenses connected to a COVID-19 diagnosis under normal plan benefits.

Additional information about COVID-19 is available from the Department of Health or Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

Direct your questions for your specific situation to your supervisor or human resources office.  

Thank you for your help and flexibility as this situation continues to evolve.  

Kayla Bastian
System Director of Human Resources
SD Board of Regents

Greetings BHSU Faculty and Staff,

Following Governor Noem’s executive order of a state of emergency, BHSU is instituting several initiatives designed to help minimize the spread of COVID-19. 

  • Employees are being asked to work from home, except essential personnel, for one week (beginning at 5 p.m. today and ending at 5 p.m. on Friday, March 20).
  • Today, please take whatever you will need to complete your work at home and forward office phones to remote location.
  • Please clean off your desk and working space; deep cleaning will take place next week.
  • If your office is fully staffed by non-essential personnel, your office will be closed next week. Before you leave today, post a note on your door with a number the public may call in order to reach staff.
  • All work-related out-of-state travel for next week is cancelled.

Essential personnel:

Essential personnel will be notified by Sunday afternoon with additional details and plans for a Monday morning meeting. Essential personnel may also be able to work from home, if that’s a viable option.

Thank you for continued patience and dedication during this time of uncertainty. Please take care of yourself and your family. Continue to check your email and the www.BHSU.edu/COVID19 website for additional updates. I appreciate all you do for BHSU.

Laurie Nichols 


Thank you for your immediate attention to the message on Friday and for your flexibility in seeking innovative ways to work remotely for the next week. It’s important for all of us to do our part to minimize the spread of COVID-19 in coordination with the Governor and the President’s emergency designations.

A small group of us met yesterday to discuss plans and identify essential personnel who will address specific needs during the extension of Spring Break. All essential personnel have been contacted by their supervisors with more detailed instructions for the week. (There will NOT be a meeting for essential personnel on Monday morning.)

If you have not been notified, you’ll be working remotely as non-essential personnel. Please see the FAQ below with answers to some of the questions you probably already have. This is a developing situation so the guidelines may adapt as we move forward.  Non-essential personnel are encouraged not to come to campus this week. Facilities Services will be doing a deep cleaning of the campus.


Laurie Nichols


Should I come to campus?

If your supervisor has NOT asked you to come to campus, you should work remotely this week. If you need something from campus, you can retrieve it but you are encouraged not to be on campus. Essential employees have been contacted by their supervisors with specifics.

Faculty: It’s preferred that you work remotely if possible.  If you need to come to your office for access to laboratory, computer, software, etc., that’s okay. Try to minimize your time on campus and while on campus stay in your lab/office with the door shut. Limit social interaction as well as use of public spaces such as the hallway, restroom, etc.

What tasks should I do?

Work with your supervisor to determine your priorities this week. Both essential and non-essential employees are still expected to work.  The location is the only thing that differs. Essential employees who are working at home may be asked to come into the office.  The University will be open for normal business hours; those working from home are expected work those hours. Please have your office phone forwarded to your home or cell phone.

Is the campus closed?

No. The campus is open on a limited basis staffed by essential employees.  BHSU should provide services as normal as possible. Some locations are closed including the Young Center, the Little Jackets Learning Center, and Einstein Bros. Bagels. 

How long will I be working from home?

The decision has been made for this week. Evaluation is on-going and when additional decisions are made, that will be communicated through email and on the website.

What about my timesheet for this month?

Timesheets must be submitted on SNAP by Monday, March 23 by 9:00 a.m. MT.  All approvals must be in that same day by 2:00 p.m. MT.  Supervisors need to work with their employees on submitting their timesheets appropriately.  Both essential and non-essential employees who are working next week, no matter the location, will submit as they normally would.  


The Board of Regents office, in consultation with the six University Presidents, have determined that all Regental institutions including BHSU will continue with our current staffing plan again next week (March 23-27).  “Essential” personnel will report to work (or in some cases work from home and be on-call). “Non-essential” personnel will work from home. Please continue to work closely with your supervisor on details such as work expectations while you work from home.  In addition, expect that modifications may be needed to those employees who are considered to be “essential” or “non-essential” in classification.

Spring semester classes will resume on Monday, March 23, but will be delivered via distance or on-line.   Academic support services will be available to students and faculty, and residence halls will be open to those students who need to return to campus.

I appreciate all you are doing to ensure we are ready to have classes available online starting Monday, March 23rd and continuing through April 3. This continues to be a changing situation and I’ve been in regular contact with the Board of Regents staff, state officials, and others to make decisions as needed. 

I continue to be impressed with the high level of adaptability by our faculty and staff. This is unprecedented and it’s gratifying to see the quick responses and positive approach by our faculty, staff and students.

Monument Health announced this morning that they now have drive-through COVID-19 testing available for those who are concerned that they may have symptoms. There’s still a need to qualify for the testing. Please call 1-800-279-1466 for the Monument Health Hotline and Triage.

Residence Life continues to work with students as needed for housing and with questions.  Foodservice is available at the Student Union, but with modified service due to the virus.

The www.BHSU.edu/COVID19 page continues to be updated on a regular basis. Events are being updated on the Campus Calendar (www.BHSU.edu/calendar) as cancellations and postponement decisions are made. Send changes to web@bhsu.edu  Faculty and staff are encouraged to consider possible virtual options for events and meetings. I’ve decided to keep the March 30th Town Hall meeting and host that through Zoom. I hope you will join us for the discussion.


Laurie Nichols

Please note:

  • The Library is closed for the remainder of the week and will be open next week for students.
  • The Young Center will remain closed this week and next.
  • The last day to drop a full-term class and receive a W grade has been extended from April 6 to April 14. Through April 6, students can drop using SNAP Self-Service. During the extended period of April 7 through April 14, students will need to contact the Registrar's office in order to drop a class. The point of contact is Brenna.Sadowski@bhsu.edu.
  • If you have traveled more than 100 miles from Spearfish since March 1, 2020, please complete the Travel Reporting form.  Knowing the locations of where our community members have traveled will help us monitor and keep our community safe should this virus reach campus.


To ensure University employees have access to the same basic information the following COVID-19 information/training will be provided to all employees:

General overview of COVID-19 to include:

- infection prevention & control measures

- signs & symptoms

- testing

- methods of transmission

- credible resources (CDC, SD DOH, OSHA)

Campus policies/procedures regarding:

- infection prevention and control

- campus & community health resources

- use of PPE including masks

- actions to take if sick/not feeling well

New workplace /office etiquette:

- avoid office gathering areas: break rooms, congregating areas

- avoid unnecessary visitors in workplace

- self screening for symptoms

- if symptoms develop stay home/go home – notify supervisor

- masks are highly recommended in all public spaces


1. Conduct a self-screening COVID-19 questionnaire a minimum of 3 times/week prior to arrival on campus https://www.apple.com/covid19

2. Sanitizing all common surfaces at personal work station at the beginning and end of each shift. Share the responsibility with co-workers in sanitizing common office equipment twice/shift.

3. Practice good personal hygiene (use of hand sanitizer and washing hands frequently throughout the day)

4. Maintaining social distancing requirements when interacting with others on campus


1. Preparing communal office space to allow for appropriate social distancing (request office reconfiguration if needed, submit applicable Facility Services Work Request).

2. Placing signage as needed (employees and guests)

3. Placing X’s on flooring for social distancing in appropriate areas - (please use blue painter’s tape)

4. Meeting with employees prior to the start of shift to communicate expectations and/or follow up on employee responsibilities (i.e. – sanitizing of surfaces and COVID-19 self-screening questionnaire)


Human Resources Considerations:

1. Those individuals identified as high-risk per CDC guidelines:

a. Continuation of remote work will likely be necessary, with evaluation on a bi-weekly basis moving forward, in accordance with CDC guidelines or recommendations.

2. Those identified as having a high-risk immediate family member living in the home:

a. Continuation of remote work is an option, again with evaluation on a bi-weekly basis, or providing the appropriate personal protective equipment or alternate accommodations.

3. Those without childcare who can work remotely, continuation of remote work will likely be necessary, with reevaluation bi-weekly.

4. Employees without childcare who either cannot work remotely or cannot care for their child(ren) and work remotely have Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) available.

a. Note: not wanting to send children to childcare is not the same as not having it available, the FFCRA leave form requires the employee to certify that they do not have a person to care for the child.

For additional information about the process for high-risk employees in categories l-3 above, please contact BHSU Human Resources.


Self-screening is required effective June 1, 2020:

ALL employees, including essential and non-essential work staff are to conduct a COVID-19 self-screening three times/week via https://www.apple.com/covid19

The IT Department will send weekly email reminders to all employees to complete the self-screening process.

Self-screening is to be done via the honor system with supervisors reminding their employees to complete the self-screening.

If, during the self-screening process, an employee receives an advisory to contact their medical provider and/or to isolate from others for a minimum of 7 days, the employee shall, as soon as reasonably possible, contact their medical provider or the Monument Health COVID-19 Hotline at 605-755-1350 or 1-800-279-1466 (7 a.m. – 7 p.m.)

If an employee develops two or more of the recognized COVID-19 symptoms they should remain home and inform their supervisor. The current recognized symptoms are:

- sore throat

- fever above 100.5

- headache

- muscle aches

- chills and/or chills with repeated shaking

- cough

- shortness of breath (not severe)

- loss of taste and/or smell

If an employee is feeling well, but is caring for someone at home who is ill

- they should notify their supervisor and an action plan will be made (in conjunction with Human Resources)

If an employee is confirmed to have COVID-19, HR will inform fellow employees of their possible exposure to the virus in the workplace while maintaining confidentiality as required by the Americans with Disability Act.


Face Masks: The University’s recommendation for wearing masks by employees is that they are highly recommended, but not mandated, to wear cloth face masks.

The CDC link for information on cloth face masks (wearing and cleaning) is: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/diy-cloth-face-coverings.html

Polycarbonate Shields: Facility Services has secured a local supply of polycarbonate (plexiglass) for protective barrier shields. Shields are to be utilized at campus locations that require close-proximity contact between employees and students/public.

Hand Sanitizing Methods:

Hand washing: Per CDC hygiene guidelines, frequent hand washing is the most effective method of preventing the spread of pathogens. Wash hands with soap and warm water for a minimum of 20 seconds.

Hand sanitizers: If hand washing is not feasible, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with an alcohol content of at least 60% ethanol or 70% isopropanol.

Gloves: Unless exposure to blood or other potentially infectious material or surfaces is anticipated, gloves should not replace frequent hand washing hygiene. If touching contaminated surfaces or infectious material cannot be avoided, CDC guidelines for wearing/removing gloves can be found at: https://www.cdc.gov/handhygiene/providers/index.html


Employees will be responsible for the sanitizing of their respective work stations and communal office equipment (printers, copiers, microwaves, etc.) 

Recommended procedure:

  • Using sanitizer wipes or a spray disinfectant and towel the employee will wipe down all common areas in their work station at the start of the work day.
  • Shared office equipment such as printers, copiers, telephones, etc. shall be sanitized by each employee before and after using.
  • At the end of the business day employees will do a final wipe down/sanitizing of all common areas and shared equipment in their work stations and office.
  • Cleaning kits will be placed in offices throughout campus (specific offices to be determined).
    • Woodburn 1st & 2nd floors 
    • Library 1st floor & basement
    • Facilities building 
    • Meir Hall 2nd & 3rd floor
    • Jonas 1st & 2nd floors (including skywalk)
    • Jonas Science
    • Student Union – all floors
    • YC admin area and fitness areas
    • BHRC


Current social distancing in the workplace recommendations by the CDC guidelines are:

  • Maintain at least 6-feet between work stations and communal office equipment such as printers, copiers, microwave ovens, etc.
  • Employees need to maintain a 6-foot distance during contacts with customers, other staff, campus guests.
  • Consider office reconfiguration options to relocate work stations or communal equipment.
  • Tape 6-foot X’s on the floor in service/sales locations where lines tend to develop. Please use blue painter’s tape.
  • See the recommendation for polycarbonate protective shields above under PPE Equipment for office locations where social distancing is not feasible.


Custodial services clean and sanitize all common surfaces throughout campus during every shift. They complete their cleaning/sanitizing no later than 8 a.m. Monday-Friday.

Common surfaces are door knobs & handles, crash bars on exterior doors, automatic door openers, light switches, stair hand rails, elevator call buttons, drinking fountains, vending machines and ATM’s, tables and countertops, restroom surfaces, and fixtures.


Daycare operations are scheduled to resume effective June 1st with the following restructured procedures:

  • Number of children clients capped at 24.
  • To limit the number of people entering the facility, parents will drop off their children via a “drive-by drop-off” procedure.
  • Staff has established a procedure for rotating and cleaning/sanitizing buckets of toys to reduce the risk of transmission.
  • All staff have been asked to wear masks during their shift.
  • The facility is considering limiting their hours of operation to 9am-4pm to avoid having to do morning meals.


The Young Center Athletic Complex will follow the same protocol and guidelines as outlined in this report. The complex will open its Varsity Weight Room and 2nd floor Fitness Center to the general public June 1st. The following precautionary procedures will be in place:

  • Hours open to the public: M-F 6 am-6pm, Sat-Sun 8am-Noon
  • Building access will be via the main doors only (flagpole circle)
  • Front desk staff will check guests in and maintain a headcount to assure room capacities are not exceeded
  • Front desk staff will wear protective masks (barrier shields pending)
  • Guest access will be fitness/weight rooms and restrooms only. The remaining parts of the complex will be cordoned off
  • Guests are to follow social distancing guidelines of 6-feet minimum when using equipment
  • Hand sanitizer will be available at several locations
  • Auxiliary fans will be used to increase air flow
  • Disinfectant spray and towels will be available to wipe down equipment after every use


To increase the frequency of information concerning the University’s COVID-19 response to members of the campus community, the following methods are recommended:

  • Posters/signage in numerous areas: building entries, work stations, campus community bulletin boards, etc.
  • Website: www.bhsu.edu/covid
  • Campus updates (summer Tues only), and Special Editions when needed


To alleviate pressure on existing PPE products and supplies, the Task Force recommends a 4- phased approach to bring all employees back to campus:

Phase 1 (June 1-12): 

30% of staff return to campus (remaining essential employees and

employees who have been on administrative leave.) Woodburn Hall will be open to the public M-F 8 am–5pm. All other campus buildings remain locked with access via Buzz Card only.

Rationale: Limiting campus access to BHSU staff and faculty will provide needed time to obtain the necessary disinfectant and sanitation supplies and to allow staff to adapt to any potential office reconfigurations and new work space sanitation procedures. It will also provide time for supervisors to relay new expectations to their staff related to employee self-screening.

The infection rate (currently “no community spread” in Lawrence County) and case counts continue trending downwards or stable for extended periods (usually 14 days).

Phase 2 (June 15-30):

First 30% of non-essential staff return to campus. All buildings open

for business as usual (M-F 8–5). Individual employees/job responsibilities to be determined by supervisor staff.

Rationale: Sanitation and personal protection supplies may potentially still be in limited supply. Restricting full access to campus remains in effect.

Recovery Status: expand return to normal life, continual monitoring Case counts trending downward for extended period (generally 28 days- from June 1) but will continue working with public health experts to

identify any regional changes during this period.

Phase 3 (July 1-17):

Next 30% of non-essential staff return to campus. Individual employees/job responsibilities to be determined.

Rationale: Adequate supplies of PPE should be on hand by this time to support normal campus business. The supply-chain should be more reliable and consistent to replace supplies as needed.

Maintenance Status: daily life resumes with increased COVID-19 awareness and monitoring. Community transmission is no longer present in the state modeling. Individual cases are identified, traced and isolated.

Phase 4 (July 20-Aug. 1):

Remaining non-essential staff (approx. 10%) return to campus. Note: this last 10% of staff returning to work, may be included in the July 1-17 group above (Phase 3).

Maintenance Status: daily life resumes with increased COVID-19 awareness and monitoring. Community transmission is no longer present in the state modeling. Individual cases are identified, traced and isolated.

NOTE: If back-ordered PPE supplies are received earlier than projected and the regional infection rate remains stable or declines, advancement to Phase 3 could be initiated at any time during the month of June.

BHSU is following South Dakota Department of Health and CDC guidelines for institutions of higher education.  If you have not subscribed to the BHSU campus campus alert system, please do so to receive any immediate announcements.