Dartmouth limits large gatherings on campus and suspends tours

by The Dartmouth Senior Staff | 3/10/20 9:59pm

Dartmouth has not joined the growing list of U.S. colleges and universities that have suspended in-person classes due to the spread of coronavirus as of Tuesday night.

However, in an email sent to campus on Tuesday evening, College provost Joseph Helble instead issued guidance that students — including those with interim housing on campus — leave campus once finished with their finals, practice social distancing and avoid international travel. The email stated that while the interim period will be used to assess the best way to provide “educational continuity,” the College intends to hold spring term classes on campus as of now.

Helble wrote that while students are strongly encouraged to leave campus by the end of the week, they will be required to leave campus by March 16 to minimize the risk of coronavirus transmission. According to the email, there will be “very few exceptions” to this directive, and these exceptions will be “based on visa status or known high-need medical or other circumstances” and managed by Student Affairs.

The College will also limit large gatherings on campus out of an abundance of caution in light of a new case of an Upper Valley resident who tested positive for coronavirus this past weekend. 

Helble wrote that all events held on campus with over 100 attendees between now and April 17 should be canceled, postponed, made accessible via virtual streaming or modified to reduce attendance below 100 people. College spokesperson Diana Lawrence wrote in an email that the ban applies to all social events, including student events. 

For events with fewer than 100 people, the College recommends that those in attendance practice “social distancing,” which involves maintaining approximately six feet away from others when possible. The College also recommends that those holding events share information about good hygiene and remind those with possible symptoms to remain at home.

Furthermore, the admissions office will be suspending all campus visit operations starting on March 13. No tours on campus will occur until at least April 17 and the first Dimensions of Dartmouth session, which was scheduled to take place on April 16 and 17, will be cancelled.

Across campus, information sheets about preventing the spread of coronavirus have been posted in bathrooms, on doors and throughout other open spaces. The entrance to the Hopkins Center for the Arts has a large sign asking visitors feeling unwell to return home. 

Helble wrote that the College has curtailed domestic travel for athletic events and teams will not be permitted to travel to states where an emergency has been declared. The Ivy League announced on Tuesday morning that it had canceled the upcoming Ivy League men’s and women’s basketball tournaments, which were scheduled to take place from March 13 to March 15 at Harvard University, which recently announced that it would move to virtual instruction following the spring break.

Additionally, the conference announced that it would be “implementing highly-restrictive, in-venue spectator limitations” for all other future campus athletic competitions and cancelling all out-of-season practices and events, and Helble wrote that spectator attendance at these competitions should follow the conference’s stated guidelines. 

Over the weekend, a third Upper Valley resident tested positive for coronavirus, and he was believed to have come in contact with the second of two Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center employees who tested positive for the coronavirus last week. The second individual had attended a church service on March 1 at Hope Bible Fellowship before knowing he had been exposed to the virus, and health officials said on Sunday that the third individual acquired the virus there.

Four individuals in total have tested positive for the coronavirus in New Hampshire, with the fourth individual being a resident of Rockingham County.