Adrian Russian 4 min read Coronavirus

How Is Dartmouth Handling COVID-19?

My junior winter was all about planning. Planning what I would do in the spring with my friends who were coming back from study abroad programs or off-terms; planning my summer internship; planning for a post-graduation job. What I was not planning on was a global pandemic that would tear my plans to shreds, leaving me to patch together new ones during the most tumultuous time in recent history.

 

We’ve all had to change our plans due to COVID-19, and in this post, I’ll be going over how Dartmouth has adapted during the pandemic.

 

Dartmouth Classes

 

The vast majority of Dartmouth classes are being conducted online this term, and, barring a drastic change in the pandemic situation, will be online at least until next fall. There are a handful of classes being offered in person, particularly for international students who are concerned about their visas. However, all professors were given the option to teach online, and nearly all opted to do so.

 

I have found that the primary difference between workload in person and workload online is not the amount of work, but the distribution. In person, there are generally 2-5 large assignments or exams, and not much daily work that you actually hand in. 

 

The successful online classes I’ve taken, on the other hand, typically have assignments to be handed in at least weekly. This approach required some adjustments in my study habits, but I find that it helps counteract the diminished classroom experience by keeping me personally engaged with the material itself, even if I am unable to interact with my professors and peers the way I would in person.

 

Screen fatigue is very real, though, particularly since many professors at Dartmouth normally don’t allow laptops in class; throughout my college experience, class has typically been a respite from screens. Usually, I do my work at night, but since classes went online I have started doing more work during the day, as I find my eyes get less tired if it’s still light outside.

 

I also make sure to do something completely off the screen, and ideally outside, at least once a day. Exercise has always been part of my life, but since Dartmouth went remote I’ve been working out even more, as it’s a way to get outside and away from my laptop. Even something as small as a short drive, or an outdoor lunch with friends, can also make a huge difference in my mood when I’m suffering from screen burnout. 

 

On-campus Life

 

Currently, roughly half the student body is living on campus. Dartmouth’s plan, which they announced over the summer, was to give every student the opportunity to spend at least one of the next four terms (fall 2020, winter, spring, and summer 2021) on campus. For those not familiar with Dartmouth’s D-Plan, our school is on quarters and not semesters.

 

Each class was given a priority term, and the classes with priority for the fall were the freshmen and juniors, so most of the students on campus right now are in those classes. There are some students from other grades who are also on campus due to special circumstances.

 

Everyone living on campus has either a single or a two-room double, so nobody is sharing one room with another person. Some of the dorms have also been kept empty so they can be used for quarantine if necessary. 

 

Food

 

When students first arrived on campus, everyone was required to strictly quarantine for two weeks. During that time, Dartmouth Dining Services delivered food to students in their rooms. After the quarantine period ended, most of the Dartmouth dining halls reopened. There are safety procedures in place, particularly around cleaning and protecting the staff, and only students living in campus housing can access the dining halls.

 

Social Life

 

The college has started offering corona-friendly social activities, particularly for the freshmen to meet each other. Many of these are small outdoor trips to explore Hanover and the surrounding area, led by upperclassmen. Even during the quarantine period, students were allowed to walk around Hanover, so long as they were masked and not in large groups. There have also been some virtual offerings such as trivia night and film screenings.

 

Although the restrictions on social gatherings are quite strict—no more than nine people, with mandatory mask-wearing—students have generally been respectful of these guidelines. Before the academic year began, every Dartmouth student was required to sign an updated Community Expectations, which acknowledged the importance of everyone doing their part to protect the community’s health. 

 

These expectations also stated that Dartmouth has the right to discipline students who violate the public health guidelines. So far, students who have broken restrictions have been sent home, and will not be allowed to return to campus for the remainder of this academic year, but are allowed to remain enrolled at Dartmouth and complete their work remotely.

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Testing

 

Students living on campus, or off-campus but close to Hanover, are also tested for coronavirus once a week. Over the summer, before students came to campus, they were sent a test in the mail, and were also tested three times during the quarantine period when they arrived on campus. Faculty and staff who come to campus are also tested.

 

Financial Implications

 

Students who are living off-campus, or elsewhere in the country, do not have to pay room and board, but Dartmouth tuition has remained the same. Dartmouth has been working with students on an individual basis to discuss work-study alternatives, and the financial aid office has been open to reevaluating a student’s aid package if their financial situation has changed due to the pandemic.

 

Although Dartmouth is in many ways unrecognizable from the Dartmouth of January, most students understand that the changes are necessary given how hard the United States has been hit by coronavirus. Unfortunately, barring an effective, widely distributed vaccine, campus life is unlikely to return to normal any time soon. Fortunately, however, many professors and student groups have worked hard, and continue to do so, to make Dartmouth still feel like Dartmouth, even through a screen.

 

If you’re planning to apply to Dartmouth, check out our essay guide. You can also learn more about Dartmouth and see your chances of acceptance by signing up for your free CollegeVine account.

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Adrian Russian
Blogger at CollegeVine
Short bio
Adrian is a current senior at Dartmouth College, originally from Seattle, WA. At Dartmouth, she studies philosophy and neuroscience, and has been involved with research in the philosophy department, sexual assault prevention on campus, and mentorship programs for first year students. She spent her junior fall studying abroad at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland.