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COVID roundup: Dartmouth extends remote work period

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 8/30/2021 9:33:26 PM
Modified: 8/30/2021 9:33:30 PM

HANOVER — Dartmouth College has delayed the return to in-person work for some employees and also is ramping up COVID-19 testing for vaccinated workers as COVID-19 transmission increases in the state, according to Dartmouth’s chief human resources officer.

Employees who have not yet returned to campus and who do not work directly with students now are slated to continue remote work until Oct. 4, Scot Bemis, the chief HR officer, announced in a Friday email to the community. That’s a delay of a month for workers who were previously slated to return at the beginning of September.

The college pushed back those workers’ return in order to reduce the density of people on campus as fall classes commence and COVID-19 transmission in the state rises, Bemis wrote. Dartmouth will provide an update on the decision next month.

Dartmouth is also requiring all employees who will be working on college properties to be vaccinated against COVID-19 and to show proof by Sept. 1. Workers can request medical and religious exemptions from the policy.

The college also is increasing COVID-19 surveillance testing for vaccinated employees from every 30 days to weekly, Bemis announced. Unvaccinated employees who are coming to campus are still required to test twice a week. Employees who are working remotely do not need to participate in surveillance testing.

In addition to testing, all employees are still required to wear masks when working indoors on Dartmouth property, except when working alone in a private office.

As of Friday, Dartmouth had 30 active cases of COVID-19, including 28 students and two employees. Since Aug. 17, Dartmouth has identified two clusters of students with COVID-19, including one with at least 10 people and another with at least five.

Nearly 95% of those on campus have been vaccinated, and college officials have said that most of the recent cases have been in vaccinated people and the cases have been mild or asymptomatic.

On the New Hampshire side of the Upper Valley, there have been 220 new cases in Grafton County in the past 14 days and 109 in Sullivan County. In Vermont, there have been 130 cases in Windsor County in the past 14 days and 40 in Orange County.

Gifford Health Care to mandate vaccines

RANDOLPH — Gifford Health Care will require all employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19 by Oct. 1, according to a message to the community.

The move, announced on Facebook on Monday, is aimed at getting the last 5% of the Randolph-based federally qualified health center’s employees vaccinated and came along with several other changes aimed at reducing the spread of the virus.

Masks also are once again required in all Gifford facilities, in-person meetings are being limited and the COVID-19 testing center in the southern parking lot of Gifford Medical Center has reopened 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays. Tests can be scheduled by calling 802-728-7000.

Gifford has upcoming walk-in vaccination clinics scheduled on Sept. 1, 8 and 15. The clinics, held in Gifford Medical Center’s Red Clover Room, are scheduled to take place from noon to 4:30 p.m. and offer all of the three vaccines currently available, Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson. Third doses are now available for those who are immunocompromised.

Legion post closes due to COVID-19 cases

LEBANON — American Legion Post 22 on Mechanic Street is closed through Wednesday due to “several reported cases of COVID-19” among the Legion’s members, according to the group’s Facebook page.

Post 22 is slated to reopen on Thursday, at which point employees will wear masks and patrons will be asked to sign in for contact tracing purposes so that people can be alerted should there be other positive cases in the future, Monday’s Facebook post said.

Haverhill schools start with masks optional

HAVERHILL — The Haverhill School Board opted not to require masks this school year at a meeting last week, reaffirming a decision the board made earlier this summer to make masks optional, according to a video recording.

The board’s decision on Thursday came after 202 community members responded to a district survey that showed roughly 58% preferred keeping masks optional at the district’s three schools and 42% wanted universal masking. A similar survey issued in June showed a larger majority in favor of optional masks.

The parents and school district employees who spoke at the meeting expressed opinions both for and against mask requirements.

The board will revisit the data and any trends at the Sept. 13 board meeting, according to a post on Woodsville High School’s Facebook page.

Many other Upper Valley schools are requiring masks at least to start the year, but Newport schools will not require masks until after three people in an individual school have tested positive.

Nora Doyle-Burr can be reached at or 603-727-3213.

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