The plan depends on several factors, including mandatory student vaccinations.
With the success to date of the vaccine rollout nationally, and the accompanying reduction in cases, on-campus activities will increase on June 1, with full access expected to begin on Aug. 1, Dartmouth's COVID-19 Taskforce co-chairs announced today in a community update.
While the continued spread of COVID-19 in some locations nationally and internationally and the emergence of variants will continue to require vigilance, "we are heartened to see the trend heading in the right direction," wrote Lisa Adams, a physician and a professor of medicine at the Geisel School of Medicine, and Josh Keniston, vice president of campus services and institutional projects.
The co-chairs outlined the changes, which will include greater event capacity, more campus access for visitors, and an increase in the number of faculty and staff members working on campus; currently, nearly 1,000 employees work onsite each week—about a quarter of Dartmouth's workforce.
"This is a good time to begin planning with department heads and supervisors for the anticipated return this fall for most employees," the co-chairs wrote.
The reopening dates are based on anticipated improvement in public health conditions; updates to federal, state, and local guidelines; and the planning and mobilization time needed for departments across campus to modify their operations, Adams and Keniston wrote. "If any of these elements are not in place, we may need to pause or slow our reopening plans."
In the email, the co-chairs discussed the timeline that will allow for increasing campus activity in a phased and coordinated fashion.
Dartmouth is currently in phase three, Limited Access, of its five-phase re-opening plan, which was created early in the pandemic, the co-chairs wrote. "On June 1, we will move to phase four, the Less Limited Access level," which will provide more flexibility for people to be on campus, "while we all continue to abide by health and safety regulations."
Key changes in the access are outlined below. The plan, on the Dartmouth Together COVID-19 website, will be updated next week to include further detail.
Less Limited Access: Effective June 1
o Masking, COVID-19 screening testing, and completion of the TSA will continue to be required. Those who are vaccinated can submit their vaccine record to reduce their testing requirements.
o Six feet of distancing will still be required when dining with others, because of the need to remove masks. Similarly, six feet of distancing will be required during activities requiring exertion, such as athletic activities and performances. In other situations, six feet of distancing is encouraged when possible, but the requirement will be lowered to three feet.
o Visitors may enter outdoor spaces on Dartmouth's campus without prior approval. To access indoor spaces for essential purposes, visitors must have a Dartmouth faculty or staff sponsor who will be responsible for completing a registration form and ensuring that the registered visitor follows Dartmouth's visitor requirements, including access requirements for those who are not fully vaccinated and visiting Dartmouth from outside New England. Visitors are people who do not attend Dartmouth, work, or reside at Dartmouth, or have a current business or academic relationship with Dartmouth; this includes alumni. Visitors are typically on campus for a few days or less and will be accompanied by a staff or faculty member during their time in campus buildings.
o Events can have more than 25 attendees in pre-approved locations managed by Dartmouth's Conference and Events department. Event capacity will be determined by the capacity of a space and should not exceed 100 people indoors or 200 people outdoors without a special exemption. Informal gatherings will continue to be limited to nine or fewer people. Given the continued constraints on event capacity, only the previously announced commencement and investiture events will be able to accommodate guests.
o The number of faculty and staff working on campus will begin to increase as additional services are provided. Faculty and staff who do not need to be on campus, or do not need to be on campus full-time to perform their work, continue to be encouraged to work remotely.
Full Access: Anticipated on Aug. 1
More detail on Full Access, the least-restrictive level of Dartmouth's five-phase plan, will be developed over the coming months, the co-chairs wrote. To help community members begin planning, they included this list of high-level details:
o All students who will be on campus are required to be fully vaccinated with a vaccine that has received full approval or emergency use authorization by the FDA or emergency use listing by the World Health Organization. Faculty and staff who can be vaccinated are strongly urged to do so.
o Masks may be required for indoor communal locations.
o Beginning in fall term, the majority of classes traditionally taught in person will return to that mode of instruction; certain graduate and professional programs may elect to adopt hybrid or other instructional methods best suited to the program's needs.
o Studios and research laboratories will return to full capacity.
o Residence halls will return to full capacity, with a small number of rooms set aside for quarantine and isolation.
o Dining rooms will increase capacity; however, there may be limits on the number of people allowed at tables.
o Dartmouth's buildings and communal space will return to full capacity without distancing requirements. To enable this change, ventilation will be adjusted or air filters will be installed in communal locations. In some cases both steps will be taken in the same location.
In closing, Adams and Keniston thanked the Dartmouth community for its continued cooperation and shared their enthusiasm for the upcoming reopening.
"We are excited to be able to move toward more normal interaction and operation on campus as we ease the restrictions that have been in place for more than a year," they wrote.