School is back in session after BHSU rented dorms to rally goers

BHSU President says there is no link to the one positive coronavirus case the university has right now.
Published: Aug. 19, 2020 at 9:01 PM MDT
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SPEARFISH, S.D. (KEVN) - Every year, Black Hills State University rents out their dorms to Sturgis Motorcycle Rally visitors.

But a staff member tested positive last Thursday, Aug. 13 for the coronavirus and the first day of school was Wednesday, Aug 19.

About 110 Sturgis Motorcycle Rally goers stayed in some dorms on the Black Hills State University campus in Spearfish a couple of weeks ago.

A tradition the university has done since 1997.

Normally, the dorms are rented out to about 300 rally goers making about $80,000 to $100,000 in revenue to upgrade furniture, beds, carpeting, washers and dryers in the dorms.

But because of the pandemic this year, the school reduced the amount of people and set a time frame of only one week for the rally goers. The school made a profit of about $22,000.

“And in fact we did spend several days having our facilities and services people come in and do a very deep sanitization of the area,” Black Hills State University President Laurie Nichols said.

Students on campus had mixed feelings about this.

Some students said they were content with the school’s process since they disinfected the rooms after the Rally.

But other students said a week was not enough time. A few students said they wish the school took a financial loss this time around.

“I appreciate when people really try to use our facilities to the greatest extent possible rather than locking the door and having them sit empty,” Nichols said. “So I guess you can look at it both ways. But I tend to look at it as this is a very important state property, let’s use it.”

However, one staff member tested positive last Thursday for COVID-19.

Nichols said the employee, however, did not work in the dorms.

“This person was on a different part of campus with a different kind of job. And at least from a job perspective, they had no interaction with the rally goers,” she said.

At this time, BHSU’s Director of University and Community Relations Corrine Hansen, said only one concerned parent called the school.

But Hansen said after explaining the situation to the parent, the parent was more at ease.

With the school year officially commencing Wednesday, Nichols said she is concerned about the spread of the pandemic.

Therefore, students have to wear a mask before they enter any school building.

If a student has any coronavirus symptoms and needs to be tested, a rapid response testing machine is stationed at Monument Health in Spearfish and will provide results as quickly as five minutes, according to Nichols.

Forty campus residence rooms are also roped off this year to serve only as COVID-19 isolation rooms.

Copyright 2020 KOTA. All rights reserved.

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