November 11, 2020
Please see the attached message sent to all Durham students today. We have seen an increase in positive cases among students since the Halloween weekend. While we still do not have any known transmission from within a classroom, let’s all be very vigilant in the last few days. Our testing and tracing team has been very effective getting students into isolation and quarantine quickly and all that data has been uploaded into the Wildcat Pass. As an additional precaution, please ask students for their valid Wildcat Pass if you are meeting with them individually or in class. While we remain in yellow, we are monitoring the situation daily and will let you know if any change is necessary.
I am emailing today to share my concern about the rapidly rising COVID-19 cases at UNH. As you are probably aware, record daily numbers of cases are being reported statewide and nationally. While the positivity rate at UNH remains below that of N.H., the number of cases within our community has increased significantly over the past week, with no signs of abatement, and university isolation (COVID positive) and quarantine (close contacts) housing is nearly at capacity. For more information regarding the growing number of isolated and quarantined community members, please see the UNH COVID-19 Dashboard.
We are less than two weeks away from November 20, the last day of in-person classes. I want to share a few thoughts:
- Because cases are rising, we need to stay vigilant! Continue to wear a mask, wash hands frequently and maintain physical distancing of six feet or more.
- Avoid large gatherings
- Limit your close contacts. A close contact is defined as someone who was within six feet of an infected person for at least 10 minutes starting from two days before illness onset (or, for asymptomatic cases, two days prior to positive specimen collection) until the time the patient is isolated. Reducing close contacts decreases the likelihood of contracting COVID-19.
- If you are in quarantine, follow the rules and stay in quarantine.
- We continue to investigate reported parties. Students in violation of COVID-19 expectations will go through community standards and face severe sanctions.
- Use the Wildcat Pass to check compliance. You are required to continue testing until you leave. Students with a record of missed tests must leave campus housing and are banned from campus.
- Fill out the winter break survey. All students are required to fill out the survey, which will be used for COVID testing scheduling for the winter break period.
- Quarantine and isolation. If you are asked to quarantine as a close contact of a positive case after Nov. 11, you will be asked to go home to quarantine if at all possible as there will be limited capacity over the break. If you test positive for COVID-19, isolation is required by state public health policy. This isolation period lasts for 10 days. During that 10 days, you may not take public transportation to travel home. Please plan accordingly.
Given the rising number of COVID-19 cases, I am receiving requests from students asking to leave on-campus housing, or to finish the remainder of the semester as a remote student. Since November 6, we have had 66 students go home to continue their studies remotely; 39 voluntarily and 27 involuntary (evictions). If you are planning to return to your permanent residence for the winter break, you should take every possible precaution to reduce your risk of contracting the virus before you leave. Continue to submit your COVID-19 tests until you are ready to leave campus. For ultimate safety, consider sheltering in place—only leaving your room to attend classes and labs, to get meals, for safe exercise, to study in the library or for other essential tasks. If you want to leave before Nov. 20 and request to continue classes remotely, please consult with your faculty. Should you leave campus, please inform the UNH COVID-19 logistics team by emailing COVID@unh.edu. If you live on-campus, follow the check-out guidelines you received.
Despite the rising cases, we are incredibly proud of what UNH students have accomplished this semester. We want you, your friends and family to remain safe. We look forward to seeing you back at UNH for the spring semester.
Senior Vice Provost for Student Life