On Friday, July 17 University of New Hampshire (UNH) President James W. Dean Jr. requested that students sign and submit an informed consent agreement regarding on-campus programming in order to return to campus. Students have the option to accept and sign the agreement, or deny and forego their on-campus education and activities in the fall.
The agreement includes the policies and protocols students are expected to follow upon returning to campus life. These protocols include wearing masks, physical distancing and other common risk-mitigation practices.
“While none of us can ensure each campus will be free from the risk of contracting COVID-19, by working together we can manage and mitigate the risk,” said Dean in the email.
UNH has continued to follow protocols set by the state of New Hampshire, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and New Hampshire’s Department of Health and Human Services (NHDHHS).
Students and community members are expected to wear masks or cloth face coverings while in class or in public common areas. While wearing a mask, students are expected to maintain a physical distance of at least six feet between each other.
Following NHDHHS protocol, large gatherings and events should be avoided. UNH announced in a press release on July 17 that the fall sports season has been postponed, as well as the cancellation of Homecoming Weekend and Family Weekend that were due to take place October 2-3 and October 10-11, respectively.
Frequent hand-washing will be encouraged throughout the day as per UNH’s UNH Together public health campaign that was announced in an email to the UNH community on July 14.
Students, faculty, and staff will be subject to pre-arrival testing and are required to present proof of a negative COVID-19 test before arrival. The form did not specify a timeline for when students need to receive a negative test. In a Q&A with President Dean and UNH Police Chief Paul Dean, as well as members of the Durham community, UNH leadership outlined their desire to receive a waiver for students to use self-test kits when arriving at campus, which are 94% accurate, compared to a 97% accuracy of the deep nasal cavity test.
Students, faculty, and staff will be subject to routine testing throughout the semester, as well as contact tracing from the University.
Students, faculty and staff will be subject to temperature screenings and mandatory self-monitoring of symptoms. Students, faculty and staff are required to report any symptoms of COVID-19 or exposure to a presumptive or confirmed positive to UNH Health and Wellness.
Campus community members who test positive for COVID-19, are symptomatic or were in contact with an individual who has tested positive will be subject to isolation and quarantine protocols.
Students may be required to execute waivers of liability if they desire to participate in certain events, extracurricular activities, or university functions.
Tuition will remain the same regardless if students participate in their courses in-person, in a blended format, or online.
The informed consent agreement omits certain protocols that are otherwise listed on UNH’s COVID-19 webpage.
Students will have an expanded move-in time frame, beginning August 10th and concluding August 31.
Students have the option to decline the informed consent agreement, however, they will be unable to participate in on-campus activities, including classes. Reasonable accommodations will be provided for students who cannot attend physical courses due to a medical condition under the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA).
UNH maintains the right to transition
back to remote learning at any point should the need arise.
In a briefing from Governor Chris Sununu, the University System of New Hampshire has received a $19 million grant from the state of New Hampshire, with the university receiving an undisclosed percentage of the grant to be used for student safety.
In a financial projection update from UNH President Dean on June 16, UNH posted a $30 million loss, as well as a $10 million operating deficit for FY21. Much of the loss is attributed to the $27 million refund given to students for on-campus housing, meal plans and mandatory fees due to COVID-19. Though much of this cost was offset by the CARES Act, the university has continued to spend on their reopening plan in order to create a safe environment for students to return to campus.
UNH has reduced dorm capacity by 50%, removing all triples and quads from each residence hall. Graduate housing is no longer provided, as graduate hall Babcock and undergraduate hall Adams Tower West will be used for COVID-19 quarantine housing.
UNH also aims to maintain to-go and order ahead options for their dining halls and will operate under CDC recommendations.
In a job posting from UNH, the facility is looking to hire over 60 new housekeeping and cleaning staff in order to meet cleaning demand. Many communal water fountains have been removed in order to lighten the workload for residential housekeepers and to limit the spread of COVID-19.
If students have any questions regarding the reopening plan or the informed consent agreement, students are urged to contact President Dean’s office via email as soon as possible. Students have until Friday, July 24 to agree to or decline the informed consent agreement.