President Philip J. Hanlon ’77 and Provost Joseph Helble told the campus community today that they want as many faculty, staff, and students to return to campus in the fall as can be safely accommodated.
While they expect that some portion of the undergraduate, graduate, and professional student population will be able to return to Hanover, there is not enough room for all students to return, as physical-distancing measures will need to be in place and there will need to be space set aside to quarantine those who may fall ill.
As a result, fewer students than usual will be able to live in residence halls and use dining facilities. Some portion of the student population will need to remain off campus and continue taking classes remotely, President Hanlon and Provost Helble wrote in an email to the community.
“There is still much work to be done to determine precisely how we will operate this fall, but we want to fill you in on the process and timetable for making those decisions,” they wrote.
Planning and decision-making are underway, with new groups helping senior leaders consider what needs to be in place before students and employees are able to return to campus.
A new Academic Working Group will make recommendations on undergraduate curricular issues, and graduate and professional schools will rely on their academic leadership for advice on issues in their schools. A Health Working Group, which will include health professionals from Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, will advise Hanlon and Helble on how testing, monitoring, contact tracing, quarantining, and treatment will be handled when people return to campus.
“All of this work is taking place now and will be continuing, in earnest, over the next eight weeks,” the president and the provost wrote. “Our goal is to communicate final decisions on fall term operations by June 29.”
“In all aspects of campus life, we expect that physical distancing and other changes to our behavior to help safeguard public health will need to remain in place for quite some time, and we are committed to strictly enforcing those practices across our community.”
As a way to begin the return to campus, some graduate students and employees are expected go back to work this summer to restart laboratories and on-campus research. Extra precautions will be taken to minimize the risk for those who working in the labs, said Hanlon and Helble.
“As we near the end of one academic year, we are planning for the next with the same steadfast commitment to providing exceptional learning experiences for our students while putting the health and well-being of our community first,” they wrote. “We appreciate your patience and support in these uncertain times, and pledge to keep you well informed of our progress in the weeks and months ahead. In the meantime, please stay well and take care of one another.”