Though the incidence of COVID-19 among students, faculty, and staff remains low, the numbers throughout the region make it premature to relax the precautions currently in place on campus, Interim Provost David Kotz ’86 and Executive Vice President Rick Mills wrote in an email to the community on Friday.
These rules call for individuals to wear masks indoors on campus, require regular COVID-19 testing—once per week for vaccinated students, faculty, and staff, and twice per week for those who are unvaccinated—and limit access to fitness facilities to students.
“Your actions do matter,” Kotz and Mills wrote, noting that the failure to wear masks in specific indoor spaces, such as West Gym, may force those facilities to close for 24 hours.
“Through our collective efforts, by consistently wearing a face covering indoors, we protect the most vulnerable in our community—our friends, our faculty and staff, or their families at home who may be at a higher risk of infection or who may be ineligible to get a vaccine,” they said.
Kotz and Mills head up the COVID-19 leadership team that evaluates a variety of pandemic metrics, including positivity rates on campus and the surrounding community, compliance with vaccination and testing policies, and the availability of isolation space for students who are symptomatic or test positive for COVID-19.
“Pending positive outcomes along these measures, we plan to reevaluate these policies by the end of next week,” they said.
Among the possible changes, the team is conducting airflow modeling on several indoor campus spaces to better understand the risks of gathering indoors and is considering opening some “mask-optional” indoor spaces for vaccinated individuals, Kotz and Mills said.
“Meanwhile, please do your part to keep the campus safe, and help us all maintain the in-person instruction and activities we so enjoy,” they said.
The message also provided an update on the rollout of take-home test kits, which are designed to make frequent testing more convenient for the campus community:
- Employees who have tested on campus since the beginning of the year should have received an invitation from Occupational Medicine to participate in the take-home testing program.
- Employees who have been working off-site should test in-person at the West Gym or at the Williamson Translational Research Building until they are invited to participate in the take-home program.
- Graduate students who are not already participating in the take-home program will be invited to join over the next two weeks.
- In-season student athletes are already participating in the program.
- The remainder of undergraduates will be invited to participate in the program when the roll-out to the other groups is complete.
Drop-boxes for take-home tests are now available in many campus locations.
For more updates about Dartmouth’s COVID-19 policies, members of the community can watch the Community Conversations webcast at 3:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 29.