Dartmouth Announces Plans for the Coming Academic Year

News subtitle

Approximately half of the undergraduate student body will return to campus for each term.

Dartmouth campus from above
Photo by Eli Burakian ’00 

Dartmouth today announced its plan to bring approximately half of the undergraduate student body back to campus for each term of the 2020-21 academic year. The graduate and professional schools have set related plans for their operation.

All plans emphasize the health and safety of students, faculty, and staff and include testing for the COVID-19 virus, remote learning for many on-campus students, and plans to evaluate and modify operations each term if virus conditions change.

“The absence of students, faculty, and staff enlivening the Hanover Plain makes us eager to be together again on campus, pursuing our mission of teaching, scholarship, and research,” wrote President Philip J. Hanlon ’77 and Provost Joseph J. Helble in an email sent this afternoon to all students, faculty, and staff. Messages about the coming year were also sent to incoming members of the Class of 2024 and their parents and to the parents of all undergraduates.

“The reality of COVID-19 means that the campus environment will be very different this fall,” Hanlon and Helble wrote. “As we plan for the return of faculty, students, and staff to campus, the health and safety of our community is our top priority.”

(The entire message can be found on the COVID-19 website, along with a list of frequently asked questions.)

The fall term will begin on Sept. 14 and students coming to campus will be required to quarantine for 14 days after arrival. There will be mandatory virus testing for all students upon their return to campus, with regular testing continuing throughout the term. Students who don’t wish to participate in testing and other required health protocols can choose to enroll in remote learning off-campus.

All undergraduates will have single rooms or live in two-room doubles, which will reduce the overall space available in residence halls. Several halls are being set aside as quarantine locations to house students who test positive for the virus. Physical distancing requirements will also reduce the amount of classroom space available to faculty and students, requiring the majority of classes to be conducted remotely.

Students will have the opportunity to be on campus for two terms, with each class having one term in which they will have priority. Students will then rank their preferences for a second on-campus term. Incoming first-year students will have priority for fall term and for spring term. Details on residency and other information for new and returning undergraduates will be communicated to students by Dean of the College Kathryn Lively.

Underpinning the plan to return students to campus is the requirement that all members of the community comply with behavioral protocols and conditions in campus buildings and common spaces, including wearing face coverings in all but private spaces, maintaining physical distances, and avoiding large gatherings. Students who fail to comply will lose the privilege of being on campus.

“We join those who want to return to the important work and profound educational experiences provided by a fully residential year at Dartmouth, and we look forward to a time when that is possible. In the meantime, we have created a plan that adapts to the realities we face,” wrote Hanlon and Helble. “As difficult as it is to make these adjustments to our lives and learning, they are important measures to safeguard the health of our community while continuing to preserve our students’ academic experience.”

Other changes included in the plan for the coming academic year:

  • All undergraduates on campus will leave as soon as fall classes are over and take final exams remotely the week after Thanksgiving.
  • Major changes are not expected in graduate and professional student housing as existing on-campus housing already provides single bedrooms. Many graduate and professional students live off campus.
  • In addition to most undergraduate classes being held remotely, most faculty office hours will also be held remotely.
  • All community members living and working on campus will be required to participate in daily health screening using a phone application or communicating on a website.
  • Dartmouth Library will be open only to faculty, students, and staff.
  • Enhanced cleaning procedures will be used in all campus buildings, some workspaces will be reconfigured, and work schedules may be changed to safeguard the health of employees.
  • A decision on whether there will be fall season athletic competition rests with the Ivy League. A league announcement is expected next month.

For the latest information on Dartmouth’s response to the pandemic visit the COVID-19 website.

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