Provost Provides Update on COVID-19 Outbreak

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Restrictions to indoor spaces are extended at least through Friday, March 5.

Dartmouth Campus during winter
Photo by Robert Gill 

The current outbreak of COVID-19 requires that “now, more than ever, we must continue to be responsible citizens of Dartmouth, the town of Hanover, and the Upper Valley, and look out for one another,” Provost Joseph Helble wrote in an email to the Dartmouth community this afternoon.

At the time the message was sent, 124 people were confirmed to be in isolation, having tested positive for COVID-19, according to the COVID-19 Dashboard, and “more cases may be added tomorrow following testing today,” Helble wrote.

To protect the community’s health and safety, the tighter restrictions established last week will remain in effect at least through Friday, March 5.

“Depending on what the following days bring in terms of case counts, these restrictions may be further extended. We are monitoring the situation closely,” Helble wrote.

These restrictions include conducting all undergraduate classes and most graduate and professional school classes remotely. While research laboratories and project spaces will remain open, undergraduate students are not permitted to enter them at this time. The deans of the graduate and professional schools will communicate any protocol changes to their respective communities.

Helble said the spike in COVID-19 cases at Dartmouth appears to be “consistent with what other campuses have seen” when individuals have stopped complying with safety guidelines such as wearing masks and observing adequate physical distancing.

“Despite the promise of vaccinations and a long winter spent taking precautions and observing state and community guidelines, this rapid increase in cases on our campus is a critical reminder that the COVID-19 crisis is not over, and we need to remain vigilant and attentive to all of the protocols,” Helble said. “Each of us must rise to the occasion if we are to help break the transmission cycle that is affecting the experience of everyone on our campus.”

“Given the importance of halting further transmission,” Helble said, Dartmouth’s health and safety guidelines—including wearing face coverings, avoiding group and room gatherings, maintaining 6 feet of physical distance, and continuing to participate in the surveillance testing program, and not permitting guests on campus—are not flexible.

Anyone unable to adhere to these rules “may therefore forfeit the privilege of on-campus enrollment for the remainder of the academic year,” Helble said.

“When in doubt, mask up!” he said.

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