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.
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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.
While Dartmouth’s reopening has so far gone smoothly with only six cumulative cases since July 1, the College has identified certain key benchmarks for when it may need to reevaluate its reopening plan. Since its debut ahead of students’ return to campus this fall, the COVID-19 reporting dashboard has allowed the Dartmouth community to follow relevant testing, quarantine and isolation data.
As Dartmouth makes dramatic adjustments to student life due to COVID-19, the Dean of the College Student Advisory Board has met regularly with Dean of the College Kathryn Lively, seeking to bring student perspectives to the decision-making table. In the two months since its creation, the board has provided input on issues such as how to bring students back to campus safely and methods to promote adherence to COVID-19 regulations.
With only around half the student body allowed in campus housing this fall, the start of the term has seen an uptick in the number of undergraduates living off campus in Hanover and in the Upper Valley.
Despite long lines, testing delays and undetected outbreaks at other colleges nationwide, Dartmouth’s comprehensive COVID-19 testing has so far gone as planned, in an effort to help keep the virus contained on campus.
Although most students accepted into the Class of 2024 started their first term of classes on Monday, nearly 200 have opted to take gap years instead.
The bustling campus to which students typically arrive at the beginning of fall term was noticeably absent this year. Under the College’s reopening plan, students are required to quarantine in their dorm rooms for two weeks, beginning with an at least 48-hour period of strict quarantine as soon as they move in. This system has required both students and the College to get creative about programming, entertainment and dining.
Twenty-three students at the Tuck School of Business have been placed in quarantine after Dartmouth Safety and Security officers were called in to stop a social gathering on Sept. 4. Meanwhile, Phi Delta Alpha fraternity has been temporarily suspended following possible health violations in an incident at its house on Sept. 5.