22S COVID-19 live updates: COVID-19 cases continue to decrease on campus, with more cases among faculty and staff than students.
May 25 | 9:10 p.m.
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May 25 | 9:10 p.m.
Some students and staff have expressed support for the lifting of certain longstanding campus COVID-19 restrictions, applauding the flexibility that the new policies give community members.
Amid the continued spread of the omicron variant, Dartmouth has the highest overall weekly COVID-19 positivity rate in the Ivy League.
On Nov. 29, the New Hampshire government offered to send free at-home COVID-19 rapid tests to the homes of all residents who requested one. Within one day of the announcement, all 800,000 available tests had been claimed. While both rapid and PCR at-home tests were initially hard to come by, and state-wide testing initiatives sought to mitigate this problem, the state now has free PCR tests available to order online, according to Democratic state senator Sue Prentiss.
Anne N. Sosin ’02 is a public health practitioner and policy fellow at the Rockefeller Center for Public Policy. After receiving her bachelor’s degree from Dartmouth, Sosin attended the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health for her master’s in public health. She currently researches COVID-19 and rural health equity in northern New England, and remains active on Twitter and in the press, regularly calling on government officials to implement and enforce mask mandates and other policies to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
Editor’s Note (March 7, 2022): This blog is no longer being regularly updated. Its contents have been preserved below.
Citing a recent surge in delta variant cases and the impending spread of the omicron variant, interim provost David Kotz and executive vice president Rick Mills announced additional COVID-19 prevention measures in an email to campus Friday afternoon. The changes — which include grab-and-go dining, restrictions on gatherings and a booster shot mandate — are intended 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,” Mills and Kotz wrote.
Following approval from the Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, children from ages five to 11 are now eligible to receive the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, CDC director Rochella Walensky announced on Nov. 2 after months of anticipation. The development holds special significance at Dartmouth, as the expansion of vaccine eligibility to young children is one of the criteria that may lead the College to reconsider its indoor mask mandate.
At the start of fall, the College adopted an indoor mask mandate, required most students and faculty and staff members to be vaccinated and pushed for weekly testing. This term has seen relatively low case counts — with a “blip” toward the end of the term, according to interim provost David Kotz — and some closures of the gym facilities.
Under federal guidance that requires federal contractors to comply with vaccine mandates, all full-time and part-time faculty and staff at Dartmouth, as well as anyone with a temporary appointment, will be required to submit proof of full vaccination against COVID-19 or obtain a medical or religious waiver by Dec. 8.
On Sept. 24 — the same day that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a set of recommendations outlining who would be eligible for an additional dose of a COVID-19 vaccine — major national pharmacy chains, such as CVS Pharmacy, began rolling out Pfizer-BioNTech booster shots for those on the CDC’s list. Other healthcare facilities, including Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, have been slower to administer shots.
In early September, the College announced that it would introduce take-home COVID-19 testing. While planning the roll out of the program has proven “challenging” and the tests are currently only available for select populations, according to College spokesperson Diana Lawrence, the tests will be offered to the remainder of the undergraduate student body as soon as logistics are finalized.
As Dartmouth students settle into their first week of fall term, the College has looked to peer institutions and how they are returning to in person classes and dealing with COVID-19 outbreaks. While Dartmouth, like many other schools, has opted to reinstate an indoor mask mandate and increase testing frequency for vaccinated individuals, interim Provost David Kotz previously announced that the College is not currently considering any outdoor mask mandates, gathering restrictions or social distancing requirements.
Updated 10:14 p.m. with additional information from College spokesperson Diana Lawrence.
Following the College’s announcement last week that the indoor mask mandate would be reestablished on campus, members of the on-campus community have expressed mixed feelings, but were not surprised, at the return of the policy.
Last July, five Dartmouth students conducted a study on student perspectives regarding the College’s planned COVID-19 policies. The Aug. 3, 2020 report, titled “Achieving Public Health Success at Dartmouth: The Student Perspective,” outlined concerns from the student body about student mental health, many of which materialized later in the year as student mental health declined and the College saw three deaths by suicide among members of the Class of 2024: Beau DuBray, Connor Tiffany and Elizabeth Reimer.
The College officially reinstated its indoor mask mandate Thursday, following new recommendations by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and similar measures adopted by the town of Hanover due to the spread of the COVID-19 Delta variant. However, as of now, physical distancing and restrictions on gathering size will not be imposed, nor will the outdoor masking requirement be reinstated, according to interim provost David Kotz.
On June 23, the College mandated that all faculty and staff must submit proof of their vaccination against COVID-19 by Sept. 1. The policy applies to all employees, but individuals can receive exemptions for religious or health-related reasons.
As Dartmouth students reach the midpoint of a mostly-open summer term, non-COVID-19 illnesses continue to circulate among students.
A paper authored by Dartmouth researchers and published this month found that the COVID-19 pandemic increased symptoms of stress during the spring 2020 lockdown. The paper was based on data collected from 217 participants — members of the Class of 2021 — by a smartphone application called StudentLife.