As of noon Thursday, March 12, test results show that one Mainer has tested presumptive positive for the coronavirus. Click here for the latest coronavirus news, which the BDN has made free for the public. You can support this mission by purchasing a digital subscription.
CONCORD, N.H. — With six people testing positive for the coronavirus in New Hampshire, the state’s colleges and universities are taking different approaches to protect students and prevent the spread of illness.
The state Department of Health and Human Services said Thursday that a Rockingham County man who traveled to multiple European countries was the latest case. Aside from seeking health care, state officials said he has remained at home since returning from overseas.
There have been two other cases in Rockingham County and three in Grafton County.
For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.
The vast majority of people recover from the new virus. According to the World Health Organization, people with mild illness recover in about two weeks, while those with more severe illness may take three to six weeks to recover.
IMPACT ON EDUCATION
Some campuses are carrying on with classes as usual, with restrictions for recent travelers, while others are shifting instruction online.
Plymouth State University students were on spring break this week, and classes will resume as scheduled Monday. But the university said courses will be available online for any student who chooses not to return for any reason, not just those who are quarantined.
“While we look forward to students returning to campus, we understand that there are some students and families who may not be comfortable doing this,” the university said.
At the University of New Hampshire, classes after next week’s Spring Break will be online for two weeks starting March 23, with on-campus housing available on a restricted basis. Those who travel to certain locations during the break will be required to quarantine off campus for 14 days before returning.
Keene State College also is suspending all face-to-face classes for two weeks starting March 23, after next week’s spring break. The college is also requiring students, staff and faculty to register their domestic and international travel plans with the college. A similar registration requirement is in place at the New Hampshire Technical Institute in Concord, part of the state community college system.
Dartmouth College is asking all undergraduate students to leave campus as soon as their final exams end Friday. When the spring term starts March 30, the first five weeks of classes will be taught remotely until May 1. With some exceptions, students are asked not to return during that time, and are being told to plan for being away the entire term.
“This difficult decision is made to reduce the risk of contagion, protect the most vulnerable members of our community, and eliminate more dramatic and problematic disruption later in the term,” Dartmouth president Philip Hanlon said in a community message Thursday.
Southern New Hampshire University in Manchester also is moving all instruction online from March 16 through March 29. And other private colleges, including New England College in Henniker, are preparing for the possibility of moving classes online.
While no primary or secondary schools in New Hampshire have closed for more than a day or two, state Department of Education officials asked Thursday for a federal waiver to ensure that children who rely on school lunches could still receive them if schools shut down.
The requested waivers would allow schools to offer “grab and go” meal service and would allow schools to still get reimbursed for meals even if they have to depart from menu requirements due to disruptions in food shipments.
AT THE STATEHOUSE
Senate Democrats proposed several measures Thursday in response to the new coronavirus.
They are seeking unemployment insurance benefits for quarantined workers and small business owners, job protection for quarantined workers, the waiver of cost-sharing requirements for state employees who are tested for the virus and free testing for uninsured residents. The measures will be offered as an amendment to an existing bill related to prescription drugs.
Republican Gov. Chris Sununu said he supports expanding unemployment benefits for those affected by the virus, including those caring for ill relatives and self-employed workers, who generally are not eligible.
AT THE COURTS
All criminal and civil jury trials scheduled are canceled in New Hampshire Superior Courts for 30 days starting Friday and will be rescheduled. The federal courthouse in Concord is denying entry to those meeting a variety of criteria, including travel to certain countries and close contact with such travelers.
The Associated Press receives support for health and science coverage from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.
Watch: What older adults need to know about COVID-19