Durham, NH — President James W. Dean Jr. of the University of New Hampshire (UNH) sent out an email on March 18 to the UNH community regarding his plan to fully open the campus for the fall 2021 semester. This email was sent a few days after the one-year anniversary of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, which forced UNH to shut down its campus last spring.  

Nevertheless, UNH campuses reopened last fall while maintaining a yellow mode of operation.  

In the email that was sent on March 18, Dean said that during the summer following the shutdown, the university was focused on maintaining “the health and safety of every member of our community and our strong commitment to student success and well-being.”  

During the 2020-2021 school year, he applauded students and faculty members for adapting to the “new normal” quickly and utilizing teleconferencing tools such as Zoom to enhance the learning experience in a restricted environment.  

The rigorous testing system implemented by UNH has allowed students to return to campus and participate in in-person classes. The UNH COVID-19 testing system tests students twice per week and faculty members once a week – this testing system has been proven to be one of the most effective testing systems among universities nationwide.  

In the email, Dean stated, “This aggressive and comprehensive approach kept our campuses open and our average positivity rate well below state and national averages.” 

Furthermore, he stated that the 2020-2021 school year has been a learning experience for the university to “leverage what we’ve learned to create a new model for higher education, combining the traditional residential experience with more online options to increase the opportunity for international students as well as students studying abroad and doing internships.”  

Additionally, UNH is also planning on strengthening and expanding its online graduate programs. “Student success remains at the core of our planning,” he stated in the email.  

However, having the UNH community vaccinated is an integral component of this plan. Dean stated that the university does not anticipate that the virus will be eliminated by fall, and precautionary steps such as wearing face masks and the testing programs will still remain in effect. 

The email ended with Dean voicing his excitement to achieve this mission in the fall and urging the UNH community to get vaccinated if they are eligible.  

Photo courtesy of the University of New Hampshire.