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Dartmouth College says prearrival COVID testing is working

Published: Feb. 1, 2021 at 5:00 PM EST
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HANOVER, N.H. (WCAX) - There are currently 17 positive COVID-19 cases among students and faculty on the Dartmouth College campus. But college officials say the numbers appear to be headed in the right direction. Our Adam Sullivan found out why.

It has been about two weeks since undergraduates at Dartmouth College returned to campus for the winter term. And while the seasons may have changed, the protocols around COVID for students are very much the same as they were in the fall.

Things do look a little different at Dartmouth, most notably the two ice skating rinks on the green. And outdoor firepits are now scattered across the campus.

“I actually work in the trailer renting skates a few days a week, so it is actually nice to go out and be skating by myself,” said Julia Reed, a sophomore.

Like the fall semester, only half the undergraduates are back in Hanover. And like fall, students were tested three times in the first week after arriving on campus.

There continue to be limits on large social gatherings.

“I think it would be a little bit harder if you were a freshman, for instance, and you didn’t know anyone or tried to form a new group of people,” said Max Teszler, a sophomore.

The students all received home test kits before traveling to campus. About four times as many students, compared to the fall, tested positive and had to delay their travel.

“What that says to me is our prearrival testing did exactly what we wanted it to. It identified students before they traveled, before they returned to the Upper Valley,” said Dr. Lisa Adams of Dartmouth College.

Adams co-chairs the college’s COVID response team. She says the students are doing their part when it comes to limiting transmission.

“I think we really have to acknowledge that the vast majority of young people want to do the right thing,” Adams said.

The students say their generation is uniquely adapted to overcoming adversity.

“In some terms, we have grown up with a lot of chaos in general and I think you get used to it eventually. Whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing is up for debate,” said Carter Welch, a sophomore.

And they say they also have the skills to do it.

“Obviously, so much of life has moved to a virtual setting and my generation knows how to do that,” Reed said.

So far this academic year at Dartmouth, 133 students and faculty at Dartmouth have tested positive for the virus. But that is contrasted with more than 90,000 tests performed. Those tests will continue, twice a week, for the remainder of the term.

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