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Out-of-state students left in limbo on shots

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 3/31/2021 10:20:45 PM
Modified: 3/31/2021 10:20:42 PM

HANOVER — While the Twin States’ governors have both said they don’t plan to make COVID-19 vaccines available to out-of-state college students, the students and their supporters may prevail in the end.

Dartmouth College Provost Joseph Helble in a Community Conversation on Wednesday urged out-of-state students to “sit tight for a week or two” before planning trips home to get vaccinated as Dartmouth officials, along with leaders from other New Hampshire colleges, urge Gov. Chris Sununu to set a time frame to vaccinate students at residential colleges.

Helble said he was “cautiously optimistic” that Sununu might be convinced to allow students to receive both required shots in New Hampshire before they leave at the end of spring term. Spring term final exams end June 8 at Dartmouth and commencement is planned for June 13.

Sununu said last week that only New Hampshire residents would be eligible for the vaccine when eligibility expands Friday to include anyone age 16 and over, and that out-of-state college students should return to their home states to get vaccinated.

Similarly, Vermont Gov. Phil Scott also said during a Tuesday news conference that to be vaccinated in Vermont, students at Vermont colleges would need to be residents, at least initially. Depending on whether the state has vaccines remaining after residents are vaccinated, Scott said Vermont “may be able to offer it to out-of-staters.” All Vermonters 16 and older will be eligible for vaccination by April 19.

Jason Maulucci, Scott’s press secretary, sought to clarify the governor’s position in a statement issued Wednesday evening. “The Governor has repeatedly said he hopes and expects to make vaccines available to all people in Vermont, including all college students,” Maulucci wrote.

College students may be considered Vermont residents for vaccination purposes if they moved to Vermont within the past six months with the intention of becoming a resident, including students who intend to stay in the state this summer. Those who are residents of another state and plan to leave Vermont this summer don’t count as Vermonters “at this time,” Maulucci said.

Should vaccine supplies continue at the current level, Maulucci said both out-of-state college students and second homeowners could become eligible for vaccination on April 30.

Advocates, including a nonprofit consortium that includes 21 public and private campuses in New Hampshire are working to expand students’ access to the vaccines in the Granite State.

“The New Hampshire College and University Council has entered into discussions with the Governor’s Office to identify a time frame for out of state students to be eligible for the state’s VINI registration program,” Michele Perkins, chair of the council and president of New England College, said Wednesday.

She said colleges recognized the need to prioritize New Hampshire residents, but as the vaccine process unfolds ahead of the original schedule, they are hopeful the state will offer the vaccine to all students who want it.

The announcement came hours after Democratic lawmakers and college students held a news conference to object to the governor’s decision, according to the Associated Press.

“Vaccinating the student population would save lives and livelihoods,” said Dartmouth student Hannah Dunleavy.

“Clearly, students at Dartmouth are contracting COVID-19 at high rates, and we risk spreading the virus to people in the town of Hanover if we don’t vaccinate students,” she said. “The virus doesn’t care if we live in New Hampshire nine months out of the year or all year round.”

Vt. hospitals welcome vaccinated visitors

SPRINGFIELD, Vt. — Fully vaccinated people may now visit their loved ones in Vermont hospitals, according to new guidance from the Agency of Human Services.

Visitors will be required to wear masks and to show proof of vaccination upon entrance to the hospital, such as a COVID-19 vaccination card, according to the new guidance that went into effect on Wednesday and was posted to Springfield Hospital’s website. To be considered fully vaccinated, two weeks must have passed since visitors have completed the total required doses of the vaccine.

Unvaccinated visitors are still not permitted, except in certain circumstances including: one support person for labor and delivery; one support person for pediatric patients; one support person for people undergoing same-day surgery; and one support person for people with communication challenges. Visitation at the end of life is up to the care team.

Dartmouth-Hitchcock had already relaxed its visitor restrictions in mid-March.

White River Valley School goes remote

SOUTH ROYALTON — Students on both campuses of the White River Valley School will be learning remotely for the remainder of the week due to a case of COVID-19, according to the superintendent.

The move affects all students in preK-12 at both the South Royalton and Bethel campuses, said White River Valley Supervisory Union Superintendent Jamie Kinnarney in a Wednesday message to families.

Students are expected to return for in-person instruction on Monday, he wrote. Close contacts of the person who tested positive should expect a call from either the school or the Vermont Department of Health.

Material from the Associated Press was used in this report. Nora Doyle-Burr can be reached at ndoyleburr@vnews.com or 603-727-3213.




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