SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — South Dakota's public university system will extend its spring break a week and cancel nonessential travel due to the coronavirus.

The South Dakota Board of Regents, which governs the six public universities in the state, announced the decision Thursday, March 12.

Spring break is already underway at all public university campuses but will be extended through March 20. The move will give faculty and staff time to adjust programs and coursework to prepare for future possible adjustments to deal with the ongoing national and global outbreak of COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the coronavirus, including in South Dakota.

The regents are also directing campus administrators to cancel all nonessential international travel and limit domestic travel on a case-by-case basis, until further notice. Other strategies administrators will implement include limiting large group events and encouraging the use of distance learning technologies.

“We have no confirmed cases of COVID-19 on any of our campuses, but we are taking reasonable steps to do what we can to protect our students, faculty, staff, and the university communities,” said Paul B. Beran, the regents’ executive director and CEO, in a news release. “The focus for all of us is the well-being of our students and employees.”

The regents said food service and residence hall accommodations will still be available for students who must remain on campus.

“Prevention and personal responsibility all play a large part in this,” Beran said. “We encourage everyone to adopt and promote everyday preventive health behaviors.”

South Dakota identified its first confirmed cases of coronavirus in the state this week, for a total of eight cases as of Thursday at 4 p.m.

The board's decision is a similar faced by other colleges and universities all over the country as newly available testing reveals hundreds of cases in more than 40 states.

In North Dakota, which had one confirmed case of coronavirus as of Thursday afternoon, North Dakota State University announced Thursday it would suspend in-person classes into early April but continue to hold classes online.

The University of Minnesota system on Wednesday suspended all in-person classes at its five campuses until at least April 1.

As a public service, we’ve opened this article to everyone regardless of subscription status.