With the goal of continuing in-person learning while also supporting community health, the leaders of Dartmouth’s COVID-19 response today announced new expectations for winter classes and programs. The updated policies, which apply to all of Dartmouth’s schools, include a required vaccine booster—a step many universities across the country are taking as cases climb—and address academics, dining, and social gatherings.
Students, faculty, and staff must receive a COVID-19 booster shot by Jan. 31, 2022.
“As we look ahead to a return to campus after the holiday break, our goal is to maintain in-person classroom learning and laboratory research and to keep campus as open as possible while also supporting the physical and mental health of our community,” wrote Interim Provost David Kotz ’86 and Executive Vice President Rick Mills.
In the message to students, faculty, and staff, Kotz and Mills said they appreciate the community’s ongoing efforts to achieve those goals, including the commitment of staff members whose work “keeps our institution up and running.”
Kotz and Mills also expressed concern about the recent increase in COVID-19 cases among staff, which could affect Dartmouth’s ability to maintain full operation in the coming months, and asked staff members to continue to be considerate in their interactions with one other, on campus and beyond.
The policy changes come as local counties experience near-peak caseloads, and regional hospitals—currently near capacity—anticipate even greater strain as the delta and omicron variants continue to surge, Kotz and Mills wrote.
Several peer institutions moved to online instruction after experiencing sudden, exponential growth in case rates last week, they noted. “As the pandemic continues to evolve, it is clear that we remain in the throes of this virus.”
Anyone with questions about the new policies should email email@example.com.
Kotz and Mills also thanked the community for its resilience and dedication, and offered a wish for the next two weeks: “We hope you stay healthy and are able to rest and recharge over break.”
Here are the most current expectations for winter, designed to keep campus as open as possible. However, Kotz and Mills stressed that these expectations may change based on evolving public health conditions.
The ability to have in-person academic experiences and plan for in-person classes and lab research throughout the winter continues to be a priority. Visiting speakers and seminars will continue to be allowed. The policy requiring face-coverings in classrooms and other indoor spaces on campus will remain in place.
Kotz and Mills “strongly encourage” anyone who is eligible for a booster shot to receive it before the start of winter classes; the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s Vaccine Finder lists clinics by zip code.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), individuals are eligible for a booster six months after their second dose of a Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine or two months after receiving the Johnson and Johnson vaccine. Those who received a vaccine listed on the World Health Organization’s emergency use listing are eligible for a Pfizer-BioNTech booster shot six months after their initial vaccination series. For more information, visit the CDC’s COVID-19 Vaccine Booster Shots website.
Anyone who is not yet eligible for the booster by Jan. 31 must receive the shot within 30 days of becoming eligible. Individuals who were previously approved for a medical or religious exemption from the COVID-19 vaccination requirement will be contacted alerting them if they need to re-apply for an exemption or if their original request will suffice for this additional requirement. Those whose medical circumstances have changed and have questions regarding exemptions should contact IDE.
Dartmouth will host a limited number of booster clinics on campus prior to the Jan. 31 deadline, but access is not guaranteed. More information about those clinics will be forthcoming.
Submitting Booster Documentation
All students should email booster documentation to firstname.lastname@example.org. Faculty and staff will be required to submit documentation of their booster using an online form in the new year and should stay tuned for additional instruction.
The CDC vaccination card is the primary source of proof of vaccination for people who were immunized in the United States. Other acceptable sources may include a signed letter from your health-care provider or documentation from your state or local department of health. All documentation must include your name, date of birth, vaccine manufacturer, number of doses, dates received, vaccine lot numbers, and site of administration.
To help reduce transmission rates, Dartmouth is taking the difficult step of continuing to suspend indoor social gatherings for all schools through Jan. 18, Kotz and Mills wrote. That decision will be evaluated in mid-January, and any changes communicated as soon as possible.
“Outdoor gatherings will be permitted, and we encourage you to take advantage of the outdoor recreational opportunities offered,” they wrote. “We’ve already begun thinking about ways to create additional outdoor activities.”
For the first two weeks of January, only grab-and-go dining options will be available, a policy that also will be evaluated as needed.
“As much as we are trying to preserve in-person experiences, we are mindful that masks cannot be worn while eating or drinking and that we have a responsibility to protect the students, faculty, and staff who spend time in dining spaces,” wrote Kotz and Mills.
Given the current trajectory of the omicron variant, there will likely be more cases on campus during the winter than there were this past fall, Kotz and Mills wrote. Students who test positive for the virus may be required to isolate in their residence or dorm room with their roommates. Students who test positive and wish to leave campus will be able to depart using a private vehicle.
For the most recent information on Dartmouth’s response to the pandemic, visit the Dartmouth Together COVID-19 website.