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Durham winter break testing updates

The University of New Hampshire (UNH) is now nearly one month into its winter break coronavirus (COVID-19) testing program and currently stands at a 1.24% positivity rate of the students, faculty, staff and contractors participating in the program. This rate is the highest it has been since the start of UNH’s testing program, however there are less people being tested during this period. 

As of Monday Dec. 14, there was a total of 95 positive tests from Dec. 7 to Dec. 13, including 82 positive student cases, one positive faculty case, seven staff cases and five contractor cases. In those seven days, 5,155 people were tested. In comparison to the UNH numbers, the town of Durham currently has 26 active cases

There is currently a total of 109 active COVID-19 cases within the UNH community, with 94 people in isolation and 107 people in quarantine.  

In an email sent by UNH Police Chief Paul Dean on Nov. 9, it was announced that all undergraduate and graduate students who will be staying in their regular semester housing “either in campus housing or in Durham, Dover, Newmarket or Lee, N.H., at any time during the entire period, are expected to participate in the UNH testing program twice per week while they are staying there.”  

The UNH community transitioned to remote learning the week of Nov. 23 through Dec. 11 and through the end of finals on Dec. 22, but some university employees remain working in on-campus offices in Durham. These employees are required to participate in the testing program and non-essential university employees are encouraged to work remotely. Remote employees may still participate in COVID-19 testing. 

This comes with UNH’s mode of operations switching from yellow or “restricted” operations to orange or “limited” operations on Dec. 3. To be considered in a limited operations modality, COVID-19 cases are increasing on- or off-campus, state restrictions are being initiated, and there is regular testing of everyone on campus. Limited operations also include only critical research being allowed on-site, all classes being remote, and a “low density (25-30%) of faculty and staff on campus in support of student operations only.” 

Due to UNH shifting to limited operations, Coordinator for Student Leadership Nate Hastings announced in an email on Dec. 11 that Memorial Union Building (MUB) offices will be making the transition to remote operations.  

“The building remains open; however, many staff members that student organization leaders frequently interact with will be working remotely,” said Hastings in the email. 

According to an email sent by Senior Vice Provost for Student Life Kenneth Holmes on Dec. 11, “the COVID-19 isolation and quarantine housing at UNH will not house additional off-campus students and students residing in University Apartments until the spring term commences on February 1, 2021” as of Dec. 12 at 5 p.m. 

Holmes also reminded students, faculty, staff and contractors to take preventative measures to assist in slowing the spread of COVID-19 like wearing a mask, washing hands often, and social distancing whenever possible. 

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