On Feb. 11, the University of New Hampshire (UNH) announced it was moving to orange mode of operations due to rising coronavirus (COVID-19) cases, and UNH students are grappling with what facilities are still available to them in the new operational mode. 

Since this is the first time UNH has been moved from yellow mode since the beginning of this school year, knowing what parts of campus are available is vital for students to navigate life in orange mode. 

UNH Dining is largely unaffected. Director of dining hall operations David Hill said that “no additional restrictions have been put in place” for orange mode, although hospitality services is continuing to follow the guidelines for food service operations put into place by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services. 

Both Hamel Recreation Center and the Memorial Union Building (MUB) remain open to students in a limited capacity during orange mode as well. Stacey Hall, executive director of student engagement and development, said that for both buildings, programs that would normally have more than six people are not being held in-person during orange mode, which includes group exercise classes, student organization meetings, and other events with larger gatherings. Additionally, the games room in the MUB is closed while orange mode is in effect. 

Hall said, “While orange mode increases restrictions on activities, particularly with other people, it is important for each of us to include activities each day to help us manage the stress and anxiety we are feeling.”  

She recommended that students take steps to alleviate feelings of confinement and tension with things like walking in College Woods, calling friends, sleeping regular hours, or taking a virtual yoga class.  

An important part of campus life is transportation, and while under orange mode, Wildcat Transit and the Campus Connector will “continue under normal full service” according to their website. The same restrictions from yellow mode, such as Wildcat Pass checks and mask requirements, are still in place. 

UNH’s sports are also still going strong under orange mode, according to director of athletics Marty Scarano. “We’ve doubled down on a lot of what we’re doing,” Scarano said, referring to what he characterized as an intense contact tracing network for UNH athletics.  

“We’re on top of all our student athletes,” Scarano said. “We’re always reminding them not to convene, not to have gatherings.” 

Additionally, he said, “We do everything in absolute lock-step with Health & Wellness.” As such, Scarano said that under orange mode he has reminded coaches to curtail meetings and hold them digitally if possible, as well as redoubling efforts to discourage gatherings among student athletes.  

Under orange mode, campus life for many students may be much the same, with the notable exception of being unable to visit other residence halls and apartments. Facilities will stay available to students as orange mode continues. 

The UNH administration plans to revisit case numbers and decide whether to continue with orange mode sometime in the next two weeks. 

Photo courtesy of the University of New Hampshire