Mandatory COVID-19 Screening Begins for Employees, Certain Students, on Campus

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The new rules go into effect on Monday, May 11, 2020.

Aerial view of campus in spring
Photo by Eli Burakian ’00

Update: Dartmouth is requiring that all students (undergraduate, graduate students, and professional students) and postdocs who have been specifically authorized to return to campus academic and administrative buildings for the limited purpose of engaging in certain authorized activities comply with the screening process.

Beginning Monday, May 11, all Dartmouth employees who will be on campus must be screened daily for COVID-19 symptoms before they start work.

The new rules are included in the state of New Hampshire’s guidance from the Governor’s Economic Reopening Task Force and apply to all New Hampshire employers. They also apply to all visitors to Dartmouth’s campus, including those making deliveries and working for outside contractors.

“As we begin to increase the number of people on campus, we want to do everything we can to protect our employees, their families, and our community at large,” says physician Mark Reed, director of the Dartmouth Health Service. “These state guidelines are a good way to do that.”

Most faculty and staff have been working from home since mid-March, when it was announced that Dartmouth would move to remote learning for spring term. Approximately 125 employees have been on campus working in health services, tending to buildings and grounds, and preparing meals for a small number of students who have been unable to return home. In addition, some faculty members have been on campus to use their offices to teach remotely.

The number of employees performing necessary on-campus work isn’t expected to change significantly because of the new screening procedure and its implementation doesn’t constitute a call-back for employees to return to campus. All employees whose jobs enable them to work from home, and who have the technology to do so, should continue to work remotely.

Starting Monday, all faculty and staff planning to be on campus will need to answer several questions and confirm that they don’t have a fever before they can begin work. This can be done from home, logging into a new Dartmouth website using the employee’s College NetID. Those employees without a thermometer at home, or who don’t have home internet access, should report to one of two sites that will be set up to check temperatures and record answers to the questions.

Dartmouth is setting up temperature-checking stations and will inform faculty and staff of the locations and hours of operation in an email scheduled to be sent tomorrow to all employees.

An employee’s temperature must not exceed 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Those with temperatures exceeding 100 degrees or answering yes to any of the questions should stay at home, or return home immediately if being checked on campus, and notify their supervisor and contact their primary care provider.

The questions are:

  • Have you been in close contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19 withing the past 14 days?
  • Have you had a fever or felt feverish in the last 72 hours?
  • Are you experiencing any new respiratory symptoms including a runny nose, sore throat, cough, or shortness of breath?
  • Are you experiencing any new muscle aches or chills?
  • Have you experienced any new change in your sense of taste or smell?

Temperatures will be checked using non-touch thermometers. Answers to the questions will be recorded by an individual using a tablet. The sites will be marked to keep those waiting in line 6 feet apart.

Employees entering the centers should wear a cloth mask or other face covering while waiting to be checked. Masks will be available for those who don’t have them. Employees are also advised to wear masks while working if they cannot maintain a distance of at least 6 feet from others.

Signs will soon be posted on all building entrances informing those on campus of the new procedures.

Further information on Dartmouth’s response to the virus is available on the COVID-19 website.

Susan J. Boutwell can be reached

Susan J. Boutwell