March 13, 2020, Update
To the Dartmouth community,
Earlier today, President Trump declared the COVID-19 pandemic a national emergency. New Hampshire Governor Sununu has also followed suit. While these declarations free up important resources for addressing the spread of the novel coronavirus, I am mindful that this may also add to the anxiety and concern that many staff, faculty, and students are feeling at this time. Those in our community who are balancing child care and work responsibilities, caring for family members who have conditions that may put them at risk for developing complications from this disease, or who themselves may be vulnerable are all dealing with significant challenges. Still others are performing essential jobs that require them to take extra precautions as they work to support our facilities and other critical areas of campus. As we develop new policies, we are keeping all of you in mind and appreciate the work you are doing on behalf of Dartmouth.
We continue to monitor the spread of the virus. To date, there have been no confirmed cases of COVID-19 on the Dartmouth campus. However, in order to safeguard the health and well-being of everyone, Dartmouth has recommended that all members of our community begin practicing social distancing in order to minimize interactions with others and limit possible exposure to COVID-19. Social distancing means remaining away from settings where people are meeting, avoiding nonessential mass gatherings, and maintaining distance (approximately 6 feet) from others when possible.
Working from home wherever feasible is one way to facilitate social distancing, and so, beginning Monday, March 16, we are asking all employees whose jobs enable them to work from home, and who have the necessary technology to do so, to begin working remotely. As with all of these decisions, we will continue to evaluate this on a regular basis and will provide further guidance prior to the start of spring term. For those whose roles are suited to remote work but who lack the technology, we ask that you discuss those needs with your manager to determine how to enable working from home. Divisional supervisors are reaching out to employees whose jobs cannot be performed remotely to provide specific information regarding their work on campus and related social-distancing protocols and protections. Our revised telecommuting policy has been modified to permit taking care of children and other relatives at home while working remotely. If you have concerns about balancing child care and remote work, please speak with your supervisor. The details of Dartmouth's remote work policy and a related FAQ are available on the COVID-19 information website at https://news.dartmouth.edu/covid-19/workplace-policies.
The announcement made yesterday that we are moving undergraduate classes to a remote format for the spring term has generated additional questions from our students. In anticipation of that need, we assembled a dedicated care team that is working to provide financial aid, travel guidance, academic accommodations, and other critical support as we make this temporary transition. We have delayed the due date for undergraduate tuition payment from March 16 to March 23 and will be in touch early next week regarding adjustments to the spring term bill and processing refunds as appropriate for anyone who has already paid.
There is a lot of rapid change happening on campus and in our world. I urge any staff or faculty members who need help with feelings of stress or anxiety about these events to contact the Employee Assistance Program at 844-216-8308. Please take a moment to reach out to someone who might be struggling with the impact of COVID-19 on their work or family life and offer your support. We are all in this together.