University of New Hampshire (UNH) President James Dean sent an email announcing that UNH will suspend all in-person classes for the remainder of the semester. This comes after two cases of COVID-19 were confirmed – one at Oyster River Middle school in Durham and another at Keene State College, which is part of the University System of New Hampshire (USNH).
“We made this decision to significantly reduce the population density of our campuses and the towns and cities our campuses are located in, as a preventive measure to enable more social distancing at a time when many new infections and even deaths are being reported daily,” Dean wrote in an email to the student body on March 18. “While we regret the inconvenience and lack of on-campus life for our students this will cause, the health and safety of our community must come first.”
Additionally, Dean answered several questions regarding the university closing, room and board refunds, returning to campus housing, remote work for faculty and staff, and commencement ceremonies. Dean said more information will be available soon, and a Student Emergency Fund has been created for those wishing to donate to UNH students during this time. For more details, read about the announcement on tnhdigital.com.
A little more than an hour away at Keene State College (KSC) President Melinda Treadwell sent an email on Tuesday night that addressed students, faculty, and staff in a video about moving to extended curtailment, meaning students who are not on campus or in Keene should not return to campus at this time, or on April 5 as planned. She noted that students currently on campus will be supported.
Treadwell shared that a KSC faculty member has tested positive for COVID-19 and is in care in a Massachusetts hospital. The college has reached out to those who may have been in contact with this person during the time of exposure risk. Additionally, the college has contacted the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services and emergency professionals.
“For our seniors, for our students, I am so sorry that this is the message I’m delivering to you. For our athletes, for our graduates, I am deeply, deeply hurt that I can’t welcome you back to complete your final year of competition and study with us at Keene State at this moment,” Treadwell said. “We are working with university system leadership and the board of trustees, and will be reaching out soon with more information.”
A day later, on Wednesday, Town Administrator Todd Selig sent an email to Durham residents, informing them that an Oyster River Middle School staff member tested positive for COVID-19, according to the Oyster River Cooperative School District (ORCSD). Selig also updated the town with information regarding Durham restaurants open for takeout, playgrounds closed until at least Apr. 3, and the potential of virtual town halls. The district had contacted the New Hampshire Division of Public Health and the Department of Education. The district will keep the community updated as information becomes available.
Here is the full statement from Selig’s email:
OYSTER RIVER MIDDLE SCHOOL STAFF MEMBER TESTS POSITIVE FOR COVID-19
The ORCSD has informed us that a middle school staff member has tested positive for COVID-19. The district learned of this today. ORCSD has contacted the NH Division of Public Health as well as the Department of Education. It is awaiting further guidance from the NH Division of Public Health. Once the district receives the additional guidance, it will share this with the Oyster River community. This is all of the information the district can provide at this time, as medical information is protected.