A road map for reopening campus

Wednesday, July 15, 2020
Wildcat statue wearing protective mask

If this were any other year, we wouldn’t be talking about plans to reopen UNH in the fall. It would never have closed. During any other summer, campus would be teeming with activity as a mix of students attend classes and sports camps and youth enrichment programs. The routine would be normal.

But normal has been redefined around the country by the coronavirus. And part of that new definition means being fluid. With that in mind, UNH has developed a multifaceted plan to resume classes this fall that combines in-person and remote learning. Both have the critical focus of keeping undergraduate and graduate students on track to complete their degrees on time while staying safe.

“A key aspect to current planning is flexibility around a set of operating modes that will respond to those internal and external variables. The goal is to provide the highest quality educational and campus experiences while protecting the health and safety of our community,” Provost Wayne Jones wrote in an email announcing the fall road map.

“At its core, #UNHtogether is about everyone in the UNH community doing their part to keep our community safe and to reduce the spread of COVID-19."

The current plan is for limited operations in what is classified as a yellow mode that brings students to campus with low face-to-face interaction. The first day of classes is set for Aug. 31. Pending faculty senate approval, students will not return to campus after Thanksgiving, completing the last 10 days of the semester remotely.

Residence halls will operate at reduced density with a maximum of double occupancy. Move-in will take place during a three-week period to keep arrival numbers low. Two residence halls will be reserved for quarantine space if needed. Dining halls will operate at 50 percent capacity or less.

Masks will be required for all students, UNH community members and visitors in public places, classrooms and labs.

Working closely with New Hampshire’s Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), COVID-19 testing of all campus community members  — faculty, staff and students — will be required based on current CDC recommendations. A partnership with DHHS and area hospitals ensures regular testing will occur; a testing facility will open on campus.

And contact tracing will be coordinated with state health officials with a goal of identifying and isolating infected individuals within 24 hours testing positive.

Meanwhile, #UNHtogether, an extensive public health campaign has been developed in conjunction with the student senate, one that President James Dean calls “a critical component of our shared experience on campus this fall.” Visit the site for more information.

“At its core, #UNHtogether is about everyone in the UNH community doing their part to keep our community safe and to reduce the spread of COVID-19,” Dean said. “By adhering to the same public health guidelines that we all have been practicing for the past few months, we will keep ourselves and each other safe and it will provide us the best chance to stay on campus through the fall semester.”

#UNHtogether consists of six public health guidelines that everyone at UNH is expected to follow, including social distancing, wearing a mask and frequent hand washing.

“As we move toward this new normal, the keys to our success will continue to be flexibility, understanding and cooperation,” Dean said. “UNH is a resilient community and I know that we are all trying to do what is best to achieve our mission. I know we can meet this challenge with grace, creativity and a continued uncommon commitment to student success.”

Jeremy Gasowski | UNH Marketing | jeremy.gasowski@unh.edu | 603-862-4465