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Dartmouth: 2 positive cases; parent drops tuition lawsuit that targeted remote classes

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 9/11/2020 10:17:37 AM
Modified: 9/11/2020 9:43:29 PM

HANOVER — At least two undergraduates at Dartmouth College have tested positive for COVID-19 as about 2,300 students returned to campus this week in advance of the start of classes on Monday.

A total of four students, including the two who tested positive, and one employee are in isolation now, Dartmouth said on its COVID-19 dashboard, which is being updated at least twice a week. Isolation is required for people who have COVID-19 symptoms and are awaiting test results or who have tested positive for the virus.

In addition, the number of students in quarantine has now almost doubled, to 59, along with two employees.

Dartmouth earlier this week had said at least 23 Tuck School of Business students were ordered into quarantine after attending a party in a dormitory on Sept. 4 in a gathering that violated college and town public-health requirements. As of Monday, 34 students, including the first-year Tuck students, and one employee had been in quarantine as a precaution.

The newly reported results come as Dartmouth had tested 2,360 students and 743 employees in Hanover as of Thursday.

Dartmouth spokeswoman Diana Lawrence said the two students who tested positive are undergraduates and had no connection to the party in the Tuck dorm, and that “they are both self-isolating on campus and receiving care.”

“The incidence is not surprising, given the volume of testing that has been conducted,” Lawrence said via email.

The increase in quarantine numbers happened, in part, because “additional students have come forward from the Tuck gathering” and were ordered into the 14-day quarantine, she said.

Dartmouth has previously said another four students had tested positive in “pre-arrival” testing of 1,549 students and will not be allowed to travel to Hanover until they have recovered.

Dartmouth is allowing about half of its student body onto campus for each term this year but says about 90% of classes will be taught remotely this fall. Students and Dartmouth employees are required to wear masks when around other people and follow social-distancing and screening protocols.

Meanwhile, Vermont officials at a news conference on Friday said they were pleased by the low level of positive tests among colleges in the Green Mountain State.

The University of Vermont has reported 15 positive cases out of 22,633 tests of students (both residential and off-campus), faculty and staff since Aug. 7.

Vermont Technical College, based in Randolph, said it has had three positive tests among 358 people tested, including students who take classes remotely.

In New Hampshire, the University of New Hampshire reported 35 positive cases out of 22,345 people tested.

Colby-Sawyer College in New London reported one positive test out of an initial round of 1,060 tests of students, faculty and staff, with a second round now under way.

Tuition lawsuit dropped

All students taking classes at Dartmouth this year, whether on campus or remotely, are being charged both $1,660 in fees and tuition, which totals $57,796 annually for those who don’t receive financial aid. Students who are living off-campus or are taking classes online from home don’t have to pay an additional $17,000 per year in room and board.

A Dartmouth parent, Florida resident Orlando Alfred, in late May filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Concord seeking a refund of part of his son’s tuition payment, asserting the switch to online learning because of the COVID-19 pandemic provides a “less valuable experience.”

Dartmouth responded in a motion last month that there was no plausible claim for a breach of contract, in part because the college had given students the option to withdraw and get a full refund if they did so within a week of the start of spring term. Alfred’s son, who was not named in the filing, decided to remain enrolled both for the spring and summer terms, meaning he agreed to classes taken remotely, Dartmouth’s filing said.

Alfred on Thursday dropped the lawsuit, though the filing gives no reason why. One of his attorneys, Patrick Madden, who is based in Philadelphia, declined to comment on Friday.

Lawrence, the Dartmouth spokeswoman, said the college was pleased by the decision.

“We believe that our response to the unprecedented threat posed by the virus to this community has been effective and appropriate, and we thank our many students, faculty, staff, and stakeholders for their contributions and continuing commitment to that effort,” she said via email.

Valley News staff writer John P. Gregg can be reached at

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