Indoor gathering spaces will be closed and in-person classes will move to remote teaching, temporarily, due to an increase in the number of students diagnosed with COVID-19, Provost Joseph Helble said in a community message this afternoon.
Yesterday, the COVID-19 Task Force chairs announced that virus transmission among students was increasing, and that, in response, dining services across campus would transition to “grab-and-go” only.
The number of students diagnosed with COVID-19 has now reached 37, and that count may rise as the contacts of people who have tested positive for the virus are also tested, Helble wrote. “For everyone’s health and safety, we will therefore now need to limit most of our indoor activities to help reduce disease transmission.”
All indoor gathering spaces, including the Dartmouth Library and Alumni Gym, will be closed until March 2. The only exceptions will be for laboratories and project spaces, which will remain open and operating under current COVID-19 protocols, he wrote.
In-person classes will move to an online format for Feb. 26 and March 1. Dartmouth will continue to offer “grab-and-go” dining options during this time.
“We will use the testing data collected on March 1 to determine whether to reopen indoor spaces early next week,” Helble wrote.
Helble called on the community to help break the cycle of transmission by practicing 6-foot physical distancing, avoiding gatherings, refraining from using public transportation, continuing to participate in regular surveillance testing, and wearing an appropriate face covering at all times.
“We understand that everyone is tired of waiting out the pandemic and curtailing social activities,” he wrote. He encouraged students to take advantage of the milder weather to leave their rooms for a change of surroundings. “It is important to find ways to care for yourself every day.”
Outdoor spaces and most outdoor activities will continue to be made available, weather permitting, he wrote. “Transportation to outdoor activities, such as the Skiway, has been suspended as we identify whether there are options to continue to provide safe transport under the current conditions.”
In the message, Helble also discussed contact tracing, and reminded students that information gathered during contact tracing is considered confidential and protected health information and is not shared with anyone outside of Dartmouth health care staff and public health officials.
“The speed, accuracy, and completeness of contact tracing are critical in preventing and containing outbreaks,” Helble wrote. “Please do not hesitate to share your contacts if asked.”
In closing, he expressed appreciation for the efforts being made across campus and in the community to follow the health and safety precautions that prevent the spread of COVID-19.
“We will be in touch as soon as we have more information to share,” he wrote.
For the more information on the pandemic visit Dartmouth’s COVID-19 website. Get the latest on Dartmouth’s response to COVID-19 on next week’s Community Conversations webcast, scheduled for 3:30 p.m. on March 3. Provost Joseph Helble will discuss operations during the pandemic with guests on the live broadcast. See the show here.