September 11, 2020 Update
To the community:
While it's true that this is a fall term like no other, we are happy to note that some things at Dartmouth never change—the excitement and energy among our new and returning students is palpable, staff across campus are hard at work taking care of our arrivals and making them feel welcome, and the promise of a new school year is in the air. Arrival testing for COVID-19 has gone very smoothly. Thank you to everyone who volunteered or participated.
Currently, Dartmouth has tested more than 3,100 individuals for the virus. In total, two undergraduate students have tested positive for COVID-19; both have self-isolated and received appropriate care. At this time, only one student remains an active case and in isolation. This ratio is not unexpected and is well below the 1% threshold we have identified as one key indicator for reassessing our campus return plan. In other words, the testing program is doing what we intended it to do: identify cases swiftly so that we can isolate people and prevent the transmission of COVID-19 in our community.
Undergraduates will continue to be tested throughout their 14-day quarantine period and at least once weekly thereafter. Testing of our graduate and professional students also continues as smaller numbers of them arrive this week. These students will also be included in our weekly testing schedule throughout the fall semester. Employees who are regularly on campus will be tested every other week with the option to be tested weekly for those with a higher frequency of on-campus activity. Employees who have not already been notified about testing will receive an email in the next week instructing them to register for testing times.
In addition to testing incoming students, everyone who is on-site at Dartmouth is required to perform a daily Temperature and Self-Assessment (TSA). The TSA is an online health screening tool that our students, faculty, and staff must complete before they access campus buildings, including residence halls. The TSA asks three questions: about symptoms of COVID-19, about being in close contact with someone suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19, and about recent travel outside of New England. Should someone answer affirmatively to the questions regarding proximity to a known COVID-19-positive person or to having symptoms of COVID-19, they are directed to contact the Dartmouth Health Service (603-646-9400) if they are a student or Axiom Medical (877-502-9466) if they are a staff or faculty member. Both the Health Service and Axiom Medical are staffed by nursing professionals who work with callers to help them manage their situation and walk them through the protocols they must observe before resuming work or other interactions on campus.
Dartmouth Health Service and Axiom Medical are also in close contact with the state of New Hampshire to help facilitate any required contact tracing that may be needed. They are interacting with departments on campus including Student Affairs staff, Environmental Health and Safety, and Facilities Operations and Management. These groups work together based on medical advice to notify members of our community who may have been in close contact with people suspected of having COVID-19 and to coordinate the cleaning and disinfection of spaces when needed.
This week, a large number of first-year graduate students at the Tuck School of Business were quarantined out of an abundance of caution after having violated Dartmouth and Hanover guidelines regarding physical distancing and face covering during an unauthorized social gathering. As a community that cares for one another, we remind everyone to please remember to be responsible and vigilant so that we can remain together in Hanover. We know that it is challenging during the excitement of a new school year, but it is the new normal; we can do this if we are disciplined and thoughtful.
Take care and welcome back!
Dr. Lisa Adams
Co-chairs, Dartmouth COVID-19 Task Force