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To the Dartmouth community,
One of the distinctive hallmarks of the Dartmouth experience is the opportunity to live and work among friends, colleagues, and mentors in this remarkable setting. Over the past two weeks, we have heard from many students, faculty, and staff who worry that the changes affecting our campus and other schools across the country related to the COVID-19 pandemic will impact the community they treasure. We understand the deep concerns voiced by many members of the Dartmouth family about changes to the spring term.
COVID-19 has presented a unique public health challenge that requires us to respond rapidly, practically, and with the least amount of disruption to our community in order to ensure everyone's safety and well-being, preserve the ability of our health care systems to manage the impact of the illness, and limit the spread of infection. Information about the spread of COVID-19, federal and state guidelines, and other factors beyond our control are evolving and surfacing at a breakneck pace.
In this environment, we have made the decision to move Dartmouth to a remote format for the first five weeks of spring term (until May 1). Undergraduate students are asked not to return to live on campus for the time being, with a small set of exceptions who will remain on campus due to medical, visa status, and other reasons. Whether students remain on campus or return home, all undergraduate classes will be conducted virtually and activities will be limited. Students who are currently out of town must not return to campus. We will work with those who are receiving financial aid to ensure that they are supported. During these five weeks the Dartmouth campus will remain open, faculty and staff, including union employees, will be paid as usual, and graduate students will continue to receive their stipends.
Graduate students are not required to leave campus and their housing situations will remain unchanged. Information about clinical rotation for MD students and guidance on other non-classroom academic activities for graduate and professional students will be provided by each school. All standard classroom-based graduate and professional school courses will also be remotely available, clinical rotations for MD students will continue, and laboratory-based graduate and postdoctoral fellow research work with faculty and staff will continue. Graduate students and postdocs normally doing field research domestically or internationally will need to consult closely with their advisors given the current travel restrictions listed on the COVID-19 website.
Because this situation is very fluid, we are advising all undergraduate students to plan for the possibility that they will be away from campus for the entire spring term. We are committed to preserving academic continuity for all of our students and are working quickly with faculty to move all courses to a remote format. Using guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services, we will continue to evaluate whether it is possible to resume on-campus classes starting May 4 for the remainder of the term. We will make this assessment by April 20 in the hope that circumstances will enable us to reconvene.
We are also working with the faculty to identify additional courses that might be taught during the summer to provide opportunities for first-year undergraduate students and juniors to be on campus for that term and help them meet their academic requirements.
This difficult decision is made to reduce the risk of contagion, protect the most vulnerable members of our community, and eliminate more dramatic and problematic disruption later in the term.
We continue to finalize many details and will be communicating regularly and on many fronts to update you on our plans and policies. Please visit the Dartmouth COVID-19 website at https://dartmouth.edu/covid19 for current information. We ask for your patience as we work through all aspects of this temporary interruption to ensure that every Dartmouth student will continue to receive a high-quality educational experience. Together we will do our best to make the coming term both healthy and productive.
Philip J. Hanlon '77, president
Joseph Helble, provost