College to move forward with fall reopening plan

by The Dartmouth Senior Staff | 8/26/20 3:00pm

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Dartmouth’s reopening plan requires that students be tested upon arrival, and on days three and seven of its mandated two-week quarantine period. 

by Lorraine Liu / The Dartmouth Senior Staff

Dartmouth will move forward with its plan to welcome approximately half of the undergraduate student body to campus beginning on Sept. 8, College President Phil Hanlon and Provost Joseph Helble announced in an email to campus on Wednesday afternoon. The decision comes as some colleges have moved online after unsuccessful reopenings.

Last Wednesday, Helble announced that the College would delay the release of student arrival information as members of the administration monitored COVID-19 infection levels at schools that have already reopened. On Thursday, 180 Dartmouth faculty members signed and circulated a letter urging the College to conduct fall entirely remotely, prompting Student Assembly to respond with a letter calling for the College to follow through with its original reopening plan. The SA letter received over 1,000 signatures from students and alumni.

“No decision at this time, during the pandemic, will satisfy everyone,” Hanlon and Helble wrote in the campus-wide email. “We have, however, made the decision that we think honors our mission while implementing safeguards for the protection of our community.”

In their email, Hanlon and Helble reaffirmed their confidence in Dartmouth’s reopening plan, which includes a 14-day quarantine and testing before arrival and on days three and seven of quarantine once students have arrived on campus or off campus in the Upper Valley. They noted that the plan is “data-driven” and “leverages [Dartmouth’s] rural setting and comparatively low population.”

Over the next academic year, most undergraduates are expected to have the chance to spend two terms on campus. So far, undergraduates have been assigned between one and three terms for on-campus enrollment. More information on winter enrollment will be available in October, according to a July 31 email from Dean of the College Kathryn Lively.

Hanlon and Helble stated that if the College’s testing cohort, comprised largely of undergraduate students, reaches a one percent positivity rate in any given week, Dartmouth will conduct an “immediate review” of its in-person operational status.

According to the email, the College will begin sharing information next week about the metrics that will be used to evaluate whether Dartmouth will need to transition back to fully remote learning. The email noted that the College has so far administered 1,015 tests to graduate and professional students without a single positive result.

In a separate campus-wide email on Wednesday, Lively wrote that students enrolled on campus for the fall would receive a message later in the afternoon about assignments for arrival dates, times and housing. She also wrote that students would receive instructions on Thursday morning for ordering a pre-arrival COVID-19 testing kit.

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