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As Dartmouth approaches week six of fall term, the College’s COVID-19 task force has begun planning for the winter. Though some students have been given the option to return to campus, many are questioning the value of an “on-campus” experience given remote classes and restrictions on socializing.
As winter approaches, public health officials have expressed concerns about the potential for a hard-hitting flu season coupled with the COVID-19 pandemic. According to Daniela Augusti, associate director of nursing at Dick’s House, the College has administered 2,715 flu shots so far this term with the campus at partial capacity, compared to 3,022 total last year.
Though ’24s spent the first two weeks of the term largely stuck in their dorms, many have used the post-quarantine period as a time to get outside and explore the area. The Dartmouth Outing Club has offered a wide range of outdoor trips that have been filling up fast.
International off-campus programs planned for this spring are “unlikely” to proceed due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, according to Guarini Institute for International Education executive director John Tansey. The outlook for spring domestic off-campus programs also remains uncertain, though several program directors have expressed hopes to continue with adapted plans.
In the seven months since the pandemic began, Hanover businesses have struggled to adapt to COVID-19 restrictions and decreased patronage. Now, local restaurants must prepare for a new challenge: the New Hampshire winter.
Three undergraduate students living together locally off campus have tested positive for COVID-19, making for the first “cluster” of COVID-19 cases in the Dartmouth community.
From a 250-player game of virtual bingo to socially distanced fall hikes, Programming Board, Collis After Dark, house communities and other student organizations have designed in-person and virtual events to keep students both on and off campus in touch with the community.
While the video conferencing platform Zoom has made class possible during the COVID-19 pandemic, some students say they have struggled to make connections due to the lack of casual interactions common during in-person classes.
Although many internship opportunities have returned to an in-person format, Dartmouth has continued not to offer funding for any in-person internships that require travel. Some students pursuing unpaid internships say they have faced financial difficulties.
Though nearly all classes remain remote this fall, labs and other project-based courses have found ways to maintain the experience of hands-on learning. Some courses have adapted to the limitations of virtual instruction by shipping material kits, which include everything from rock samples to small presses for printing, to each student.
Fifteen campus services staff members have been laid off, furloughed or had their hours reduced over the past three months, according to an email from vice president for institutional projects Josh Keniston to the campus services division on Wednesday. Additionally, 26 campus services employees have opted to take advantage of Dartmouth’s voluntary early retirement offer. The College will not hire replacements.
Peak fall foliage usually attracts hordes of tourists to the Upper Valley, each hoping for a glimpse of the area’s famous multicolored leaves. But despite the return of fall colors, business owners say COVID-19 seems to have discouraged tourists from visiting this year.
Residents of at least five sorority houses and one fraternity house have experienced a range of internet problems since the beginning of the term, causing some students to be unable to load prerecorded lectures, attend meetings or even connect to synchronous Zoom classes.
The quarantine period for students living on campus has come to an end, and many are glad to finally grab a meal inside Dartmouth’s dining locations. But from capacity limits to sanitation measures, even eating in a dining hall looks different this term.
Despite the national economic downturn due to COVID-19, the College’s endowment grew to a record high of $5.98 billion this year. In total, the College’s investments yielded a 7.6% return, up slightly from last year’s 7.5% return.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, the video-conferencing platform Zoom has dominated higher education, with many colleges and universities adopting the technology as a temporary substitute for in-person instruction. Though Zoom allows students to remain connected to their academic experience, as well as with family and friends, the wide-scale adoption of the platform has raised questions around student data and privacy.
As of Sept. 28, students spending the term on or near campus will be tested once a week for COVID-19. The primary testing area has been moved from the Maynard Lot near Dick’s House to Leverone Field House, and volunteer testers have been replaced by workers from testing company Axiom Medical.
Although undergraduate advisors have always had a role in enforcing community guidelines and school policy, pandemic regulations have added new duties, and with them new concerns.
As the College continues to ride out a wave of revenue losses, budget cuts and hits to various programs due to the financial fallout of COVID-19, the Tuck School of Business announced on Sept. 15 that it had laid off 18 staff members. Meanwhile, the Thayer School of Engineering has announced that it is not planning any layoffs, and other divisions at the College have not announced decisions about job reductions at this time.
Quarantine and regular testing aren’t the only ways in which COVID-19 has disrupted campus operations. In an effort to reduce contamination, recycling has been suspended indefinitely in residence halls on campus, according to Facilities Operations and Management associate vice president Frank Roberts.