July 29, 2021
Dear Members of the UNH Community—
I am devoting the entirety of my July update to COVID-19, specifically our protocols for the fall semester and our need to understand the level of vaccination in our community so we can be as safe as possible.
While state law prohibits us from requiring vaccination, I cannot stress enough how important vaccination is for the health, safety and yes, the lives of our community. The more members of our community who are vaccinated, the more safe and open our campuses will be, especially for those who are unable to or choose not to be vaccinated. The university wants to provide the best experience possible for our students with as few restrictions as possible, consistent with our responsibility for the health of our community. To do that in light of the uptick in cases around the country, reports (still rare) of fully vaccinated people testing positive, and the more contagious Delta variant, we will require arrival testing as well as regular testing for the month of September for every member of our community, vaccinated or unvaccinated. Campus-specific arrival testing information will follow in the second week of August, but regular testing for the month of September will be as follows:
- If you have not told us you are fully vaccinated: same frequency as last year, two times a week for students, once a week for employees
- If you have told us you are fully vaccinated: once every other week or more frequently on a voluntary basis
- Review this flow chart to determine your general testing requirement
If you are fully vaccinated, please let us know using the confidential Health & Wellness portal or here. The information you provide will be confidential and used only for the purpose of confirming your vaccination status, consistent with the Health & Wellness Notice of Privacy Practices.
Currently, CDC guidance is evolving and we are monitoring the campuses' and regional data daily. Unlike parts of the U.S. today, all current indicators for our region and campuses support current protocols of no mask mandate, no physical distance requirements and no limit on gathering size. However, we are prepared to adjust our protocols as needed for the safety of our community as we did last year.
Our proven testing program will continue to provide data about community health and be available for all who wish personal testing beyond the requirements. Wastewater surveillance at up to 30 campus locations will be ongoing. Infection rates may trigger additional testing as needed or adjustments to protocols, such as mandatory mask wearing in classrooms or indoors. Additional guidance for classrooms, syllabi and labs will be shared in the second week of August.
Please continue to follow CDC guidance for both vaccinated and non-vaccinated individuals. Those who test positive for COVID-19 will follow the same isolation and contact tracing protocols as last year.
The current public health recommendation is to become fully vaccinated. Being fully vaccinated will decrease your chances of becoming infected with the COVID-19 virus or transmitting it to your family, friends or others with whom you have close contact. In addition, fully vaccinated people who become infected with COVID-19 are less likely to experience severe symptoms, hospitalization or death. UNH Health & Wellness is a great resource for questions or concerns about the vaccine. Updates will be coming soon about vaccine availability on our campuses. You may also want to discuss this with your personal physician.
I look forward to seeing you all on our campuses soon. Enjoy the rest of the summer and please continue to watch your email for more detailed information. The main COVID-19 website will be updated as information becomes available in August.
James W. Dean Jr.