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Dartmouth College tells students to stay away

  • Dartmouth College sophomores Talia Pikounis, left, and Mary Sophia Reich say goodbye before Reich boards a bus in Hanover, N.H., on Thursday, March 12, 2020. Pikounis was supposed to do her spring semester abroad in Paris, she will now be going home to Philadelphia. Reich was on her way home in Nashville for spring break. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. valley news — Jennifer Hauck

  • Dartmouth students wave goodbye to a friend riding to Boston on Thursday, March 12, 2020, in Hanover, N.H. The women were seeing their classmate off as students leave campus for spring break. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. valley news — Jennifer Hauck

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 3/12/2020 10:08:24 PM
Modified: 3/14/2020 2:26:13 PM

HANOVER — In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Dartmouth College is telling its 4,400 undergraduates not to return to campus housing until at least May 1 and to plan for the possibility that they may not return to campus at all during the spring term. Students instead are expected to take courses remotely.

The directive came as the college’s winter term is ending and students are leaving for a two-week spring break. Many colleges and universities around the country announced they are clearing out campuses to slow the spread of COVID-19, the respiratory disease first identified late last year in Wuhan, China.

Faculty and staff, including union employees, “will be paid as usual,” according to the email. Additionally, graduate students will continue to receive stipends and are not required to leave campus, and there will be some exceptions for undergraduate students to remain on campus for “medical, visa status, and other reasons.”

“COVID-19 has presented a unique public health challenge that requires us to respond rapidly, practically, and with the least amount of disruption to our community in order to ensure everyone’s safety and well-being, preserve the ability of our health care systems to manage the impact of the illness, and limit the spread of infection,” said Dartmouth President Phil Hanlon and Provost Joseph Helble in a campus-wide email on Thursday.

College officials have been working to offer classes this spring online, and the email said “all undergraduate classes will be conducted virtually.”

“We are committed to preserving academic continuity for all of our students and are working quickly with faculty to move all courses to a remote format,” the email said.

The other seven Ivy League schools — and a number of other colleges and universities — have announced similar policies.

Other schools in New Hampshire have made moves to encourage social distancing to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Beginning Monday, Plymouth State University will make courses available online for any student who chooses not to return to campus, not just those who are quarantined. At the University of New Hampshire, classes will be online for two weeks beginning March 23, with on-campus housing restricted. Keene State College also is suspending all in-person classes for two weeks starting March 23, after next week’s spring break.

Several Vermont schools made similar moves this week, with the UVM and Vermont Law School in South Royalton both moving to online classes starting next week.

Dartmouth told students officials would decide by April 20 whether on-campus classes will resume on May 4. In the meantime, the email stated, the college will work with students “who are receiving financial aid to ensure that they are supported.”

Dartmouth officials have emphasized that no case of COVID-19 has been identified on campus. In the Upper Valley, two Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center employees and a third Grafton County resident have been diagnosed with the disease, which has symptoms such as a fever, cough and shortness of breath. Though most cases are mild, it can lead to serious illness and death.

In the wake of President Donald Trump’s travel restrictions between Europe and the U.S., Dartmouth officials announced in an earlier Thursday email a moratorium on all Dartmouth-sponsored international and domestic travel for staff, faculty and students until further notice. They were “strongly discouraging all personal domestic and international travel” except for students traveling to leave campus as the school has required they do.

Elsewhere in the Upper Valley, Newport schools let out early on Thursday because a staff member, “who has minimal contact with students,” had symptoms that initially seemed consistent with COVID-19. He underwent testing for the flu on Thursday, Superintendent Brendan Minnihan said in an afternoon message to families.

“He will not be returning to school while he awaits the results and gets further direction from his medical provider,” Minnihan said.

Minnihan said the district will hold a training session on Monday in order to prepare for the possibility that the district will need to offer remote instruction for students.

Teachers in Claremont will undertake similar planning on Monday, and all afterschool activities at SAU 6, with the exception of extended child care, are canceled until further notice out of “an abundance of caution,” according to Superintendent Michael Tempesta. That includes the senior play, which was slated to be performed at Stevens High School this weekend.

The prevention efforts in the Upper Valley came as the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services announced the state’s sixth positive case, a man from Rockingham County who traveled to multiple countries in Europe. He and members of his household have self-quarantined, DHHS said.

There are two other confirmed cases in Rockingham County along with the three in Grafton County. Two cases have been discovered in Vermont, both of which have required hospitalization.

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




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