University of New Hampshire (UNH) President James W. Dean, Jr., along with the University System of New Hampshire (USNH) Board of Trustees, announced on May 8 that it will reopen UNH’s campus for the fall semester of 2020 amid the uncertainty of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.
Dean reaffirmed that the situation remains unclear and much is still to be determined, but the health and safety of the students, faculty, staff and the community comes first with reopening the Durham campus.
As a result, multiple task forces have been created across the campus and have identified key issues to prevent in order to prepare for students to return.
The key issues include having a robust testing system in place, as well as a contact-tracing system in order to quickly identify and isolate potentially exposed students and adhering to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines. The testing system will be in place for the beginning of the school year, as well as throughout the remainder of the year.
Dean described how UNH will continue to ensure that it will continue to maintain heightened cleanliness of common academic spaces. He also said the university will continue to be able to provide adequate masks and hand sanitizer to the community.
According to Dean, the university will provide adequate resources such as face masks/protection and sanitizer to students but it is imperative for students to remain vigilant in their efforts to limit the spread of the virus in order to remain on campus for the entirety of the semester.
Students who are in high-risk health groups, as well as any student who chooses, will have the option to have a parallel online track provided for their coursework. Students may choose to attend every class in person, participate online, or a mix of both.
Employees at risk may also continue to work remotely until the situation subsides.
Dean’s email raised much excitement from UNH students, one of them being Sarah Aznive, a sophomore history and art history major.
“I was very excited to see that we’re going back,” Aznive said. “I definitely feel like there will be a lot of change to slow down the possibility of another COVID-19 spike. Hopefully, we can make these adjustments because I know a lot of kids want to go back for good.”
In his statement, Dean stated his confidence that UNH leadership will be able to accommodate students and faculty with the arrangements required to sustain a healthy working environment.
“This won’t be easy, but given how well the UNH community responded to the pandemic this spring, I am confident we can do this—together.”