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President’s Message to Students – October 16 , 2020  Stay Vigilant

Doing great — But Staying Vigilant

Lake Area Tech Students,

I am very proud of how you have been doing – 90% of you did not miss any on-campus classes due to COVID quarantine/isolation during this entire first half of the fall semester.  That only happens because each of you did your part to not expose others, both on and off campus.  So keep social distancing, masking when appropriate/required, washing your hands and sanitizing.

The first thing I want to ask you is to take care of each other.  College by itself is a stressful time.  When you add COVID on top of the upcoming winter season it only makes it more stressful.  Make sure you and your classmates are taking breaks, having some fun, and seeking professional help if you feel depressed or stressed out.  We have a great team of mental health professionals if you want to talk to someone.

As we see the number of cases in the community grow and the number of people hospitalized increase, I want to remind you that we need to remain vigilant in combatting COVID-19.  We have done well so far, but I have noticed some students not following the guidance.  One outbreak could affect a lot of people.  Remember, “Your Bubble, Your Job.”  It is your responsibility to socially distance, to wear your mask when required, and to follow all the safety guidance.

Social distancing (maintaining 6 feet) whenever you can is the most important step.  Wearing masks is required in common areas, whenever you may be closer than 6 feet to others,  and as directed by your instructors.  Masks are for the safety of others, not just you.  We need to protect our at-risk population.  We have several students and staff who are either at-risk, live with someone who is at-risk, or are caregivers for at-risk people.  Unfortunately, for some COVID is life-threatening.  Besides putting at-risk people needlessly in harm’s way, not following guidance may jeopardize your ability to finish the semester because we do not have sufficient staff available to cover if multiple faculty and key positions get COVID.

As winter sets in, so does cold and flu season.  The same guideline for protecting at-risk people from COVID help to protect them from influenza.  Let’s all do our part to keep everyone safe, to keep everyone in the shops and labs, and to all go home at Christmas with a full semester completed.

You are doing great – keep it up!



President’s Message to Students – September 17, 2020  No Campus Spread!

Lake Area Tech Students,

1st Month – NO CAMPUS SPREAD!!!

Thank You. Just a short note to let you know that you are doing an amazing job!   I am truly proud of how well you are doing in the modified environment.  I am very pleased with how well you have taken on the personal responsibility of safeguarding our at-risk population and containing any virus spread within our college.  Quickly communicating when you are being tested, quarantined, or get test results is vital to our efforts. Everyone doing their part is how you continue your streak of NO campus spread of the virus.  By preventing campus spread we are able to maximize the time you have on campus, face-to-face, and in your labs!  Congratulations!

I also want to thank those of you who have worked from home while you were quarantined or isolated.  We know for many this is harder than being on campus, so we thank you for doing your part in protecting your classmates, instructors, and community.

We currently have 3 active cases on campus, so we need to stay vigilant.  Please also be mindful that the techniques and safeguards you practice on campus also apply when you are in the community.  I highly recommend you form “social bubbles” to help safeguard you and your friends.  Social distancing is the most important step, but that does not mean social isolation.  Enjoy your time here, but do it wisely.

Many businesses in town are experiencing workforce shortages.  Please help them keep their employees on the job by masking when they ask you to.

Thanks again for all you do for Lake Area Tech!


President’s Message – July 2, 2020:  Fall Semester Start Up

Lake Area Technical College Students,

Lake Area Technical College is excited to have our students on campus this fall.  We are getting all the details worked out, but have a solid approach to providing you a great college education as we safeguard and control the spread of COVID-19. 

Things may seem different as we take steps focused on safeguarding our at-risk staff and students.  You, the student, will play a huge part in you and your classmates’ destiny.  We are going to ask you to protect your Lake Area Technical College family by working from home if you are sick or have symptoms, and wearing facial coverings if you have been exposed or in common areas if the virus is prevalent.  The more personal responsibility we take to safeguard each other and follow CDC and South Dakota’s guidance, the more face-to-face, hands-on time everyone will enjoy.  We plan to operate similar to the many different industries we partner with.  We will change as the threat changes and we’ll evolve as the situation evolves.  We will also rely on and trust each other like you do with your family at home.  I cannot stress enough that the interruption and changes to stop the spread of COVID-19 are temporary and will change as our environment changes and be gone as soon as we can safely shed them.

For those who prefer to move into the online environment for Fall 2020, please talk to your program supervisor or the registrar’s office.  Nearly half of our programs are available in the online environment.

Lake Area Technical College is also working closely with the local landlords to make sure proper steps are being taken where you live as well as when you come to school. 

Lake Area Technical College is truly looking forward to having you on campus this fall.  We cannot tell you there will not be COVID-19 cases on our campus this fall.  But what we can tell you, is with your help and by you taking responsibility to help everyone else, we can limit the spread and have a meaningful fall semester at one of the best colleges in the nation!

I’ll update you periodically, so watch for my emails!  Lake Area Technical College is looking forward to making this next year EPIC and is proud you chose Lake Area Technical COLLEGE!!!

We’ll see you on-campus August 17! 

May 8, 2020: Tech Schools’ Plan to Re-Open Fall 2020

CONTACT: Nick Wendell, South Dakota Board of Technical Education, 605-280-4331, nick.wendell@state.sd.us

PIERRE, S.D. – South Dakota’s four technical colleges plan to resume on-campus operations this fall, with face-to-face teaching and learning at institutions across the state. The colleges will continue to focus on providing high-quality online instruction to complete the spring and summer semesters.

“The system will continue to seek advice from experts in public health, epidemiology, and emergency management, as we make decisions to safely and appropriately prepare for the fall semester,” said Dana Dykhouse, Chairman of the Board of Technical Education. “The health of our students, faculty, and staff is paramount.”

The technical college presidents and their staff are planning for the safe return of students and implementing campus protocols required to address the ongoing public health challenge. As the situation evolves, the colleges will prioritize safety and be prepared to act quickly to promote both student well-being and success.

More specific plans will be announced by the colleges in the coming weeks and months. The South Dakota Board of Technical Education provides support to Lake Area Technical College, MitchellTechnical College, Southeast Technical College, and Western Dakota Technical College.

April 24, 2020: Message from President Mike Cartney

If you have been identified as an eligible 2020 Graduate, you have been granted access to the Graduates tab on the portal.  Contact your program advisor ASAP if you do not have access to the tab and believe you are a 2020 graduate.

On this tab you will find a Graduate Checklist, Announcements, and information about the Virtual Graduation Ceremony.  The  Graduate Application is located at the top of the page.

ALL Graduates are to complete the Graduate Application.  This where you can select how you want your name written on your diploma (nickname, with or without middle name or initial etc) and where to mail it once your transcript has been verified. Graduates will also be able to upload a color, head and shoulder photo for the Virtual Graduation Ceremony here. 

**The deadline to complete the Graduate Application is Monday, April 27th.**

Mental Health resources: https://www.lakeareatech.edu/covid-19/

April 15, 2020: Graduation Announcement

Lake Area Technical College Graduating Students,

The Lake Area Technical College Fifty–Third Annual Commencement Ceremony will take place virtually on Friday, May 8, 2020.  Your college graduation is most likely your greatest achievement thus far, and we will honor and recognize this momentous occasion as best we can.  We are working hard on making this event very special, meaningful, and memorable, but we need your help.   Within the next few days, eligible graduates will be contacted via your Lake Area Technical College email to complete a Graduation Application to request your “Commencement in a Crate” and to submit a photo (in your cap and gown if you have them) that will be used as part of the virtual ceremony.   Remember, this is a public graduation for you and all your classmates, as well as your family and friends – make sure your photo is suitable for the occasion.  Your student ID photo will be used if an alternative is not provided.

Lake Area Technical College’s commencement website will go live May 8.  The ceremony components will be pre-recorded, allowing website visitors to navigate at their convenience. So set a time for your virtual graduation watch party!  Together, you, your family and all your friends can navigate the page and celebrate the momentous occasion, share stories, and enjoy time together when you don your new title of “Lake Area Technical College Graduate!”

Everyone at Lake Area Technical College understands and shares the disappointment of not having a traditional on-campus ceremony.   An additional in-person traditional ceremony held sometime late fall/winter is being discussed.  You will have the opportunity to let us know if you also want and would attend this affair.

It is important for all of us to celebrate this landmark achievement with you.  We hope you will make the most of this day – and know how proud we are of each and every one of you!


April 8, 2020: Student Update –  New Closure Information, Resources, Virtual Learning, Easter

Lake Area Technical College Students,

This week, the Governor announced our facilities will be closed until the end of May.  For this semester, that means our graduation ceremony may not be the traditional ceremony, but we are still on track for you to complete the semester and graduate on May 8th if that was your original track.   

  1. Since most of you had 80% to 90% of your diploma/degree completed before Spring Break, your programs will build on that hands-on experience you already completed to get you through the semester.  Your programs are working hard with industry and national/state accrediting and certifying bodies to keep things on target where ever we can.  It is important to note that changes made during this national emergency will be exceptions, not new rules.  We’ll get back to our traditional approach as soon as it is safe to do so.  Details and questions on your exact program should be addressed to your instructors.
  2. Your instructors and staff are also working in the new virtual environment, and they too are working from home.  As such I am sure there will be bumps along the way, as we both learn and adapt to this new environment.  We ask your patience and diligence as we know most of you are learning new technology as you are learning your skills.  So are we!  Communications is key.  Keeping talking with instructors.  Let them know if you are not understanding.
  3. Some advice.  This is a new experience for all of us.
    1. First, be safe – the life you save may not be your own.  Just as important as avoiding COVID-19 is not spreading it.  However, COVID-19 is being carried by a lot of people who are unaware that they have it.  So the rules of washing your hands, social distancing of 10 feet, wearing a mask, staying away from others if you are sick are not just about protecting you, but they are to keep your family, your friends, your community safe by limiting the speed to which the virus spreads.
    2. Make an extra effort to establish a fairly rigid schedule.  Proper sleep and diet are important to your health and your studies.  Getting into a routine of sleep, work, and study that fits you, your household, and your program’s needs.
    3. Take time to decompress.  Take a half hour every day to disconnect and decompress.  Turn off the news, put down your books, and turn on Netflix.  Or better yet, get outside, go for walk, watch the sunset, phone a friend, etc..  Enjoy things, just enjoy them safely.
    4. Volunteer,  if there was ever a time to step forward and help your community wherever you can, this is it.  Please consider volunteering by signing up at Volunteer211.com.
    5. This can be a tough time to navigate through.  Lake Area Technical College is here to help wherever we are able – contact us through your departments.  Your communities are also ready to help (see attached Watertown Resources).  For anyone in Codington County (and several other counties in SD), dialing 211 gets you a person who can pint you to a host of local services.  The state also has services through the Dept of Labor and Regulation (in Watertown call  882-5131) as well as Dept of Social Services (Watertown – 882-5000).  In Watertown, Human Services Agency lists many services on their website at: http://www.humanserviceagency.org/WHY/familyresourcedir.html
    6. See the Lake Area Technical College website for where to get accurate, up to date information on COVID-19, review our FAQs for students, and to see additional services we provide.
  4. What if I have been exposed to someone with COVID-19?
    1. When someone is confirmed positive for COVID-19, Dept of Health (DOH) notifies people whom they determine have been exposed.  If you are notified by DOH, follow their instructions.  Notify your program.
    2. If you have direct contact with someone who is being tested, consult your medical provider, self-isolate, and monitor for symptoms.  If the results are negative, you no longer need to self-isolate or monitor.  If the results are positive, you should receive instructions from DOH, otherwise consult your medical provider.   Notify your program.
    3. If you believe you were in contact with someone who is confirmed positive for COVID-19 and you have not been notified by DOH, self-isolate and contact your medical provider.  Follow the guidance of your medical provider.  Notify your program.
    4. If you, or someone in your household, experiences a fever, cough, or shortness of breath, contact your medical provider and follow their guidance.  Follow the guidance of your employer with respect to reporting to work. Notify your program.
  5. Just want to emphasize how important it is to everyone that you: 1) wash your hands WITH SOAP; 2) where a mask in situations where you may be close to others (like a grocery store); 3) keep a social distance of ten feet from others; 4) monitor yourself for symptoms (fever of 100.4 or higher, cough, shortness of breath) — consult your doctor is you have symptoms; and 5) please keep your program up to date on any changes to your health or safety.

Just a quick reminder this weekend is Easter, therefore there are no classes on Good Friday or Monday.

Have a great week!


March 25 Update: Lake Area Technical College Students – Virtual Learning Environment

We hope this update finds you doing well and enjoying your last few days of the extended Spring Break.   

As you are aware, all programs are online beginning Monday, March 30.   With your safety as a priority,  and in full support of Governor Noem’s guidance provided yesterday, Lake Area Technical College will continue in the virtual environment for the remainder of the spring semester. With only six-weeks remaining in your academic degrees, we will build on the extensive hands-on foundation you already possess to provide a top notch technical education.  We are going to make this transition and environment as welcoming and easy as possible for you through the use of video demonstrations, simulation software, video conferencing, virtual classrooms, and other virtual tools.  Clinicals, internships, and work-based experiences also are continuing where industry is supportive.  Students are not required to return to campus. Please stay where you have the best support network.

We understand our unique, hands-on learning environment cannot be fully replicated online – but we will make it the best we can, and ease this transition as much as possible.  You will have daily contact with your instructors and together we will make you successful. If they have not already, your instructors will be trying to contact you this week. To be clear, we fully intend to graduate this class on 8 May.  We will however need to be innovative on the graduation ceremony.   We are in extensive conversations with the US Dept of Education to make sure you receive a high-quality education.  

I want to express my admiration for you, our students, as you are preserving through this unprecedented time.

For our healthcare providers and first responders, as well as our elected officials, who are on the front line of this the pandemic,  please take a moment in thought and appreciation for their efforts and pray for their strength and well-being.


March 20, 2020: To Our Students – What you need to know in the coming weeks…

Lake Area Technical College Students,

Lake Area Technical College is committed to seeing you through this historical event.  Your success is our success, but we first want you safe.  For those of you on track to graduate in May and getting on with your career, I want you to know that we have the same commitment.  A few things to know about the next couple weeks:

  1. You DO NOT have classes next week. Classes resume in the online environment for EVERYONE on 30 March.  Enjoy your extended spring break, but remember the cautions we gave on travel, social distancing, and washing your hands.
  2. We understand you may not feel prepared and have concerns with the online learning environment.  We do too.  However, we are doing the best we can, and we will use every tool at our disposal to make you successful. For those of you without computers or internet, we are working on how to get you connected.  We are determined to keep the personal feel and caring environment that you experience here on campus in our virtual learning world.  We need your full participation and willingness to try new things to make this work.
  3. At the direction of the State, Lake Area Technical College is indefinitely closed to the public, including our students. Students are encouraged to remain in their hometowns, but may return if desired or housing requirements dictate it.  Since students do not have open access to Lake Area Technical College, you will be contacted by your programs to make arrangements to pick up personal belongings and projects.  Instructional staff will connect with you mainly through email to make arrangements, so make sure you are checking your Lake Area Technical College email every day – this is critical for communications.
  4. Our COVID-19 website has links to information and other community resources, including mental health and COVID-19 updates from authoritative websites:  https://www.lakeareatech.edu/covid-19/

I also want you to know that Lake Area Technical College’s support does not stop at our doors.  We are here in these coming weeks and if you need assistance, call and we’ll see what we can do!  We are all in this together.


– March 20, 2020: Online Classes Begin March 30; Continuous Monitoring of Situation 

Lake Area Technical College Parents, Alumni and Friends, We are traversing unchartered territory as we take the necessary steps to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in our community. At Lake Area Technical College, we are handling these challenges with resilience and determination and are fortunate to have faculty, staff, students and friends who are willing to put their unparalleled skills to action to solve the difficult issues with which we are now faced. As you probably are aware, students have been given an extended spring break (March16-March 30) which will allow our faculty and staff to work diligently at adjusting the instruction and delivery of classes by moving to an online approach. The level of this collective effort is nothing less than miraculous and I cannot say how proud I am of the Lake Area Technical College staff and how they have stepped up to the challenge.   Lake Area Technical College is indefinitely closed to the public, including our students. We will begin online instruction for all programs beginning March 30. Students are encouraged to remain in their hometowns, but may return if desired or housing requirements dictate it.  Since students do not have open access to Lake Area Technical College, they will be contacted by their programs to make arrangements for them to pick up personal belongings and projects.  Instructional staff will connect with them mainly through email to make arrangements, so make sure they understand that checking their Lake Area Technical College email every day is critical for communications. As time passes, we will continue to closely monitor the situation in order to determine how best to serve our students, staff, and partners with the same level of excellence you expect from Lake Area Technical College.  Our support to staff, students, and partners does not end at the doors of Lake Area Technical College, if you need support we will always try to help.  We are all in this together.  Not knowing what each day holds, we may need to take additional actions to adjust and modify our operations.   We understand that all of you are managing changes at home and work and the unknown certainty of our futures weighs heavily on our minds.  Please be assured that Lake Area Technical College will continue to provide the best education to our students regardless of the method of delivery. More importantly, know we are committed to our students and staff and their emotional well-being and safety. Our counseling staff will be available by appointment (605.882.5284 ext  216 or 337).  This region needs Lake Area Technical College graduates now more than ever!  Please support them in their efforts to complete their education and obtain employment in their chosen career. If we learn nothing else from this pandemic, we have ascertained that we are a resilient bunch and it is important to slow down, be kind, and protect each other.  And… what a story we will have to tell future generations. Thank you for all you do,  Mike CartneyPresident, Lake Area Technical College

– March 18, 2020 Extended Spring Break at Lake Area Technical College

Lake Area Technical College Students,

As the situation continues to change at a rapid rate, we have decided to extend Spring Break for our students through 29 March 2020.  The Lake Area Technical College campus will be closed to the public next week to allow the faculty and staff to prepare to support all students in the distance learning environment.  Students on internships, supervised occupational experiences, apprenticeships, and clinical should continue as before, and contact your program for guidance.  All students will begin online classes on 30 March, expect information and instruction from your program next week.  We currently plan to continue in the virtual environment until at least 6 April.

We appreciate your patience and hope you enjoy your spring break.  Please reference Lake Area Technical College’s webpage on COVID-19 for travel information and warnings, as well as other updates and CDC guidance.  

We will continue to send you periodic updates.

Thank you,


– March 18, 2020 Lake Area Technical College Closed to Public

Lake Area Technical College Students,

I hope you are enjoying your Spring Break.  As before, the situation here is fluid.  Our way forward must be in line with CDC, state and federal  guidance — as protecting you, our staff, and our community is our priority.  Let me give you the current steps and where we are going next week.

Per State guidance, Lake Area Technical College will remain closed to the general public next week. For students on work-based experiences (internships, SOEs, clinical, etc) and Online students in Online programs, classes will run as usual.  For all other students, classes will start on Wednesday in the online environment.  We’ll be moving as much content online as possible and preparing to offer the crucial hands-on lab components in small groups (9 students or less).  Your program will be contacting you with details early next week.

The cafeteria and coffee shop will be take-out only. Student will only be allowed in the Student Center to “grab-n-go”.   Unfortunately, no meetings or gatherings are allowed on-campus.  Remember: wash your hands, practice social distancing, and seek medical advice if you have a fever, cough, or shortness of breath.

Watch your emails for more details.

Thank you for your patience and understanding as we work through this together.

Thank you,


– March 13, 2020 School Closure

Lake Area Technical College will be closed to the public March 16-20.

– March 12, 2020 Spring Break Travel Guidance

Lake Area Technical College Family,

We wanted to provide travel guidance before people head out on spring break so you can make good choices.  First, there are no general travel restrictions in the US at this time.  But you may find this travel information helpful:  https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/travel-in-the-us.html.  Again, Wash Your Hands, social distancing, and avoiding large crowds are good rules to follow.

Right now there are a number of countries on the CDC’s high risk  travel list.  If you travel to a high risk country call Lake Area Technical College BEFORE you come back onto campus so we can give you proper guidance and information. You can reference this link to see if your travel plans are at risk: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/index.html.  Currently the list of countries includes China, Iran, Iceland, Most of Europe and South Korea. If you go to one of these countries, you will have to be QUARANTINED for 14 days BEFORE coming back to campus.  Your risk of exposure is also fairly high in California, Washington, New York, and Massachusetts.

This can all change very quickly outside the US.  If you go out of country, it could change next week while you are there!  For example, the US will no longer accept inbound flights from Europe starting Friday.  So please consider your overseas travel plans very carefully.  There is sustained community spread of COVID-19 in Mexico, but it is not yet a level 3.



– March 10, 2020 Watertown School District Letter 

Dear Parent / Guardian: Nation and worldwide the Coronavirus (COVID-19) has become a source for concern. While we don’t know what this virus will bring, we do want to be prepared as best we can. (Read More)

– March 10, 2020 First Case of COVID-19 in South Dakota 

“The state’s Public Health Laboratory in Pierre has confirmed the first presumptive positive cases of coronavirus in South Dakota,” said Noem. (Learn More)

Robotics/Electronics Community Effort

Lake Area Technical College Robotics Department COVID 19 Protective Face Shields and Masks Fund:

Help provide financial support to assist Lake Area Technical College’s Robotics Department with production supplies for Protective Face Shields & Masks in response of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Lake Area Technical College COVID-19 Protective Face Shields and Mask Needs

The Lake Area Technical College Robotics program faculty is assisting healthcare providers and first responders by using the program’s 3D printers to produce protective face shields and facemasks. Supplies are needed to complete the items.

Items Needed:

  • Clear plastic for the face shields – Between .030 – .015” thickness
  • Elastic – 1/8”- 1” in width
  • HEPA (97% or higher) filters for the facemask (only needs to be 2.5” squares and we can cut to fit)

If you have a 3D printer and would like to assist with production, please email brooks.jacobsen@lakeareatech.edu for details.

All regional distribution will be handled by Lake Area Technical College.  Contact Brooks Jacobsen for more information or other ways you can help your community.