Winter term arrival dates delayed, quarantine period shortened
Arrival dates for students returning to campus in the winter have been postponed from Jan. 5 and 6 to Jan. 16 and 17, Provost Joseph Helble announced in a campus-wide email on Monday afternoon. The delay comes amid the growing number of COVID-19 cases in the Upper Valley and an anticipated post-holiday surge in transmission.
“Unfortunately, we have all observed increasing COVID-19 case counts, hospitalizations and deaths across the country over the past several weeks, and national and state modeling predict a continued increase in virus transmission rates into the new year — including locally — exacerbated by a surge resulting from the upcoming holiday season,” Helble wrote in the email explaining the decision.
Classes will begin on Jan. 7 as planned, though they will remain fully online until students’ post-arrival quarantine period has ended. In a change from fall term, the quarantine period will now be eight days instead of 14 for students who receive negative tests, in accordance with new state public health guidelines. In-person meetings for classes offering them will begin on or after Jan. 26.
Students with on-campus room assignments who had originally been assigned an arrival date of Jan. 5 will now arrive on Jan. 16, and those who had been slated to arrive on Jan. 6 will now arrive on Jan. 17. Helble wrote that students living off campus are strongly encouraged to delay their arrival dates until Jan. 16 or Jan. 17 as well.
To account for the shortened on-campus portion of the term, the College will apply a 15.5% credit to the termly residential room rents and meal plan charges, Dean of the College Kathryn Lively wrote in an email to campus. The credit, as well as financial aid allowances for room and board during remote enrollment, will be viewable on student accounts beginning the week of Dec. 14, Lively added.
The refund policy for winter term rent has also been adjusted, according to Lively’s email. Should a student decide to either withdraw for the term or leave campus, they will be able to receive a complete refund of room charges through the end of the first week following arrival. A declining weekly refund percentage will also be in place through the sixth week of the term after arrival. Lively added that dining plan refunds will also be calculated “on a pro-rated basis.”
All undergraduates on campus and living locally in the Upper Valley will participate in the College’s testing program this winter. In addition to pre-arrival testing, students will be tested at Leverone Field House upon arrival and will test again on the third and seventh day after arriving in the area. Students will continue to test twice weekly for the duration of the term.
During phase one of the quarantine period, students will quarantine in their rooms or at their residences, and students living on campus will have their meals delivered to them. During phase two, once students have received a negative test, they will continue to quarantine from the second through eighth days on campus but will be able to leave their rooms to pick up meals, either on campus or curbside, and exercise by themselves outdoors.
Campus facilities will begin to reopen on Jan. 26, after the arrival quarantine period has ended for all students.
Helble wrote that the current Grafton County active case count has reached more than 2,100 cases per million, adding that “the full impact of the anticipated post-Thanksgiving surge is expected to materialize this week.”