COVID-19 Task Force Co-Chairs: Campus Operations Update

News subtitle

Safety measures will remain in place until higher levels of immunity are reached.

Photo by Eli Burakian ’00

With spring term underway, the COVID-19 Task Force co-chairs this afternoon provided an update about campus operations regarding COVID-19, including guidance on gathering and testing for community members who have been vaccinated. The email, sent to faculty, students, staff, and the families of undergraduates, also outlined Dartmouth’s ongoing effort to enable out-of-state students to be vaccinated in New Hampshire.

Lisa Adams, a physician and a professor of medicine at the Geisel School of Medicine, and Josh Keniston, vice president of campus services and institutional projects, wrote that while there is “a lot of good news on the vaccine front,” continued caution is in order.

“Many members of our community remain unvaccinated, and the recent clusters of cases on campus remind us that until we have reached higher levels of immunity, we must be vigilant about following health guidelines and continue to be patient in the weeks ahead,” wrote Adams and Keniston.

Guidelines for Gathering

In accordance with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance, Dartmouth students who are fully vaccinated may gather in private, off-campus spaces without using face coverings or maintaining 6-foot distancing. Those gatherings must be limited to nine people or fewer, all of whom must be fully vaccinated.

“When in doubt about whether all individuals at a gathering are vaccinated, please continue to wear a mask and employ physical distancing,” Adams and Keniston wrote, and provided a link to the complete CDC guidance for people who have been fully vaccinated.

Dartmouth is not adopting the CDC guidance that allows one unvaccinated household to gather with a vaccinated household “because of the difficulty of defining a household in our student population,” the co-chairs wrote.

Since the Dartmouth community is not yet fully vaccinated, masking and physical distancing will continue to be required in all indoor and outdoor locations on campus and in public off-campus locations, including, but not limited to, the Green, Dartmouth Library, town sidewalks, residential facilities including recognized Greek organizations and society facilities, the gym, and all academic buildings.

“In accordance with CDC recommendations, everyone—whether vaccinated or not—needs to continue to wear a mask and practice physical distancing in public spaces and avoid large gatherings,” Adams and Keniston wrote. “It is still not conclusively known whether vaccinated people can transmit the virus to others if the vaccinated person becomes infected, particularly with one of the current variants of concern.”

The co-chairs also noted that landlords, facilities, and towns may have adopted additional guidelines and requirements.

Fully vaccinated faculty and staff who gather off campus, either indoors or outdoors, must follow all applicable state and local requirements, as well any other requirements applicable to the spaces in which they are gathering, Adams and Keniston wrote.

Testing Frequency

Faculty, staff, and students who have been vaccinated will require less-frequent routine virus testing, beginning on April 12. Instructions for submitting vaccination documentation to Axiom Medical or the Dartmouth College Health Service will be shared by email later this week. Once students, faculty, or staff have completed the appropriate forms, they will receive an email indicating that they have been approved for less-frequent testing.

Campus Access for Undergraduates Living in the Upper Valley

Yesterday, undergraduates enrolled in spring term who had not been approved for on-campus access were able to apply for access through a waitlist administered by Student Affairs. The waitlist will provide access to facilities such as the gym, library, and other academic facilities, but not to residential facilities—including recognized Greek organizations and societies and campus dining facilities—where space remains limited.

Access to Dartmouth facilities remains subject to all occupancy limits, entry and exit patterns of travel, and usage requirements, the co-chairs wrote. Students who applied for access via the waitlist will be notified about their status by the end of this week in an email from the dean of the College.

Vaccine Access

Approximately 600 Dartmouth employees and students have been vaccinated in New Hampshire phases 2a and 2b through Dartmouth’s recent partnership with the state at the clinic in Lebanon for New Hampshire residents, Adams and Keniston wrote in the email, which also included links to guidance about identification residents of New Hampshire and Vermont need to bring to vaccination appointments.

The co-chairs wrote that Dartmouth is continuing to advocate, both directly and through its partners, with the state of New Hampshire for vaccination on behalf of out-of-state students, and that they will share any related news as soon as it is available.

Dartmouth, along with groups such as the New Hampshire College and University Council, has reached out to the governor’s office seeking discussion about the timeframe for eligibility for those students, “particularly in light of a predicted increase in vaccine supply,” the co-chairs wrote. “We strongly believe that it is in the public health interest of our community to have as many people vaccinated as possible. We would like all of our students to be able to receive both doses of a vaccine early enough to develop full immunity before they need to travel home at the end of the term.”

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

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