College to offer increased opportunities for in-person engagement this winter

by Emily Lu | 12/9/20 9:39pm

winter
by Michael Lin / The Dartmouth Senior Staff

Updated Dec. 11, 2020 at 4:39 p.m.

Following a fall term that saw dorm access restrictions and the closure of many indoor gathering spaces, students will have additional opportunities for social interaction and outdoor activity this winter, Provost Joseph Helble announced during his weekly livestream on Wednesday. These adjustments will allow students to engage with each other without concerns of violating the “Community Expectations” agreement, according to Helble. 

The changes announced during the livestream come following calls from the community to provide more opportunities for students to socialize safely. Many of the changes address suggestions listed in a petition calling for the College to loosen restrictions against on-campus gatherings, which was circulated by parents earlier in the fall. 

While delayed move-in dates for winter term were announced earlier this week, Helble noted that this change is not a first step to a fully remote term, adding that “if things are the way they are today,” students will be returning to campus in mid-January. 

When students arrive this winter, they will once again be required to quarantine, though for a shortened period of eight days compared to fall’s 14. Following the quarantine period, students will be permitted to visit other residential facilities, a change from fall term policies that prohibited students from visiting other dorms. Other spaces, such as the Top of the Hop and Collis Center, will be open for informal use and programmed events, and the College will hire student workers to help manage these facilities.

In another change from fall term, students will be able to more quickly access items in controlled storage this winter, COVID-19 task force co-chair Josh Keniston said during the livestream. For students who are living on campus, they will be able to schedule appointments to obtain belongings in controlled storage once they receive their first negative PCR test for COVID-19, which the College anticipates will be available within 24 hours.

In addition, while students were asked to make reservations to study in Baker-Berry Library in the fall, this reservation system will no longer be required. The College is instead installing an occupancy monitoring system in the library, according to Helble. Beginning on Jan. 25, Baker-Berry will be open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Sunday through Thursday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. 

In order to “embrace” the winter weather, the College will be providing transportation to the Dartmouth Skiway on the weekends and additional equipment for other outdoor activities, Helble said. The golf course will be groomed for cross-country skiing and accessible for sledding and snowshoeing. Helble added that the College hopes to provide an additional ice skating rink on the Green or on the golf course, and it is exploring hosting fire pits throughout campus. 

The annual Winter Carnival will also be “expanded” this year, according to Helble. Dean of the College Kathryn Lively said that outdoor activities will include ice sculptures, sledding on the Green and snowshoeing.

Beyond winter term activities, Helble announced the cancellation of domestic off-campus programs for the spring term due to projected levels of COVID-19 in March and continued travel restrictions. Spring international off-campus programs have also been canceled.

Additionally, Lively wrote that the College has replaced the previous “five towns” travel guidelines: During the fall, undergraduate students enrolled on campus were not permitted to travel outside of the local area, defined as the towns of Hanover, Enfield, Lebanon, Lyme and West Lebanon in New Hampshire, and the towns of Norwich and Hartford, which includes Quechee, Wilder and White River Junction, in Vermont. This winter, students will be allowed to travel within New Hampshire, or within Vermont, should that be a student’s state of residence. Students can also travel out of their state of residence to New Hampshire and Vermont depending on the applicable state guidelines.

Advertise your student group in The Dartmouth for free!