Colby-Sawyer outbreak grows

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 3/15/2021 10:08:08 PM
Modified: 3/15/2021 10:08:07 PM

NEW LONDON — Colby-Sawyer College extended its remote learning period and entered a “modified stay-in-place phase” on Monday amid a growing outbreak of COVID-19, according to an announcement on the school’s website.

The outbreak at Colby-Sawyer grew over the weekend to include a total of 57 active student cases as of Sunday, nearly twice the number the college reported on Friday, according to the school’s COVID-19 dashboard. The college, which first moved to remote learning on Friday, also had nearly 100 people in quarantine, including 81 on campus in New London.

“… Many of those who have tested positive this week are experiencing mild-to-significant symptoms,” said Gregg Mazzola, the school’s vice president for marketing and communications, in the announcement sent to students on Saturday.

The fully remote learning model is slated to continue until March 24, Mazzola wrote. In addition, the college was scheduled to enter the stay-in-place phase for students on campus beginning on Monday at 5 p.m.

“Colby-Sawyer was fortunate to have avoided an outbreak of COVID-19 cases on campus over the first five weeks of the semester,” Mazzola wrote. “And while some colleges and universities across the state may not have been as fortunate during that span, those institutions have proven that a temporary shift to fully remote learning and similar stay-in-place periods can successfully prevent further spread of the virus.”

For example, Dartmouth College in Hanover had just 27 active cases on Saturday, down from a high of about 150 earlier this month. Winter term final exams end Wednesday at Dartmouth and spring term begins March 29.

During the stay-in-place phase, Colby-Sawyer students will be required to remain on college property and be barred from entering residence halls other than their own. They are allowed to go outside in groups of six, but are required to wear masks and practice social distancing.

There are a few exceptions. Nursing and athletic training students may leave campus for clinical work, as can students studying with the Upper Valley Educators Institute, so long as they tested negative for COVID-19 during testing on Friday.

Students were offered the opportunity to leave campus before the stay-in-place requirement went into effect, but will be required to return by March 22 in order to participate in a round of mandatory testing in advance of the planned return to in-person instruction on March 24.

During the stay-in-place phase, campus tours have been postponed and the school’s sports center and library remain closed. The school’s dining hall is open for take-out only and school officials asked students required to isolate or quarantine to order meals online for delivery by campus dining staff.

Vt. prison reports21 new cases

NEWPORT, Vt. — The outbreak of COVID-19 at the Vermont prison in Newport is continuing with 21 new cases, the Department of Corrections reported on Monday.

Nineteen of the new cases are among inmates at the Northern Vermont Correctional Facility and two among staff members.

There are currently 37 positive inmate cases and six positive staff cases at the facility.

The department says 100 inmates who had previously tested positive have recovered and been cleared to leave isolation. Four staff are expected to be medically cleared early this week.

“All of the new positive incarcerated cases came from one unit, which matches our experience with the virus,” Corrections Commissioner Jim Baker said in a statement. “Our team continues to do their level best to mitigate the spread across the facility.”

The Newport prison is being tested again Monday for the virus. It has been in full lockdown since receipt of the first positive results on Feb. 25.

Currently, the Northeast Correctional Complex in St. Johnsbury is also in full lockdown. All other state facilities are in modified lockdown.

Homebound Vermonters can request shots

WHITE RIVER JUNCTION — Vermonters who are eligible to be vaccinated against COVID-19, but who are unable to leave their homes for scheduled appointments, can now request to be vaccinated in their home.

Vermonters who meet this definition and are not receiving care from a home health agency can call 802-863-7240 or toll-free at 833-722-0860. The call center is open between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. In most cases, an appointment will be scheduled 10 to 14 days after people make a request.

The Vermont Department of Health asks that people not request these appointments if they have already made one through a primary care provider, hospital or home health agency.

Free meals to continue

WEST LEBANON — New Hampshire schools can continue to serve free meals to all children regardless of their families’ income levels, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced.

Due to the extension of several waiver programs, schools can continue to serve the free meals through Sept. 30, according to a news release from the New Hampshire Department of Education.

The waivers also allow meals to be served outside of the normally required group settings and mealtimes, and allow parents and guardians to pick up meals for their children in bulk.

Since March 13, 2020, New Hampshire schools have served over 13 million meals to New Hampshire students.

NH summer tourismlooks promising

CONCORD — Representatives of New Hampshire restaurants and lodging industries said Monday that they are optimistic for a strong spring and summer now that COVID-19 vaccinations are available, but some problems remain.

“Both vacation rentals and lodging pre-bookings are up over previous years at this time, as well as rentals of boats, canoes, kayaks, attraction tickets,” Amy Landers, executive director of the Lakes Region Tourism Association, said during a call hosted by U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen. “We are encouraging people if you want to get to the Lakes Region this summer, you better start planning now because everything is going be sold out.”

Landers said some businesses are still struggling, however, such as restaurants. She said one challenge in past years, finding workers, will increase.

“It’s going to be the worst ever that we’ve seen because we don’t have the international (staff) coming in as well. I’m fearful that we’re going to lose several businesses because they won’t have employees,” she said.

Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.

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