The University of New Hampshire (UNH) will enter orange mode following “a dramatic and sustained rise in the number of positive COVID-19 cases within the Durham community,” President James Dean announced Thursday. 

As UNH has operated under the “yellow” level of operations throughout the first eleven days of the semester, the college has now switched to a fully remote level of operations unless otherwise given the exception of the dean. Starting at 6 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 11, UNH will be under “orange” or limited operations, restricting in-person learning and highly restricted use of campus buildings and facilities. 

COVID-19 cases are severely on the rise at UNH – 75 positive cases on Tuesday, and 82 positive cases on Wednesday – and quarantine housing is quickly reaching capacity. The university campus had enacted state-level restrictions and mandatory testing of every student and faculty member on campus. If someone has any COVID-19 symptoms, they can be sure that medical resources are available to access on the campus premises. 

Similar to the prior “yellow” or restricted levels of operation, students are required to wear a face mask at all times when on campus while simultaneously maintaining social distancing. Critical research is the only practice allowed on campus at this time, and professors teaching courses that require in-person lab assignments are working to adapt and adjust their instructional schedules. 

Additionally, under “orange” levels of operation, campus housing will remain open, though highly limited in the capacity as well as the number of students admitted entry. Student dining will remain open, but will transition back to the dine-out method that was previously installed last semester. Any student organizations or events, as well as gatherings of any kind in residence halls, are now placed on hold. The pilot program scheduled to begin Friday, where a limited number of students could attend the men’s ice hockey game, has been postponed as well.  

The level of faculty or staff members on campus is low, at 25-30% of the total employed, though those on campus are required to adhere to same safety measures as students. 

President Dean expressed that face-to-face classes have not caused the surge of COVID-19 cases, though noted that upgrading to the operation level of “orange” will promote overall de-densification campus-wide. He also said that the “overwhelming majority” of the recent positive cases have been traced back to off-campus students. Dean also notes that all UNH athletics games will not allow for spectators. Additionally, any students living off campus are now prohibited from any on-campus halls or apartment buildings, and on-campus students cannot visit other residence halls or on-campus apartment buildings. As the quarantine- and isolation-specific dormitories are reaching capacity, off-campus students are now not allowed to quarantine or isolate there.  

COVID-19 is currently in a slow but gradual drop nationwide, but the consequences of ignoring public safety guidelines from the Department of Health and Human Services or Centers for Disease Control has proven that it is important as ever to take proper safety measures.