Dartmouth College has announced plans to re-open its campus this fall. But it won’t be an ordinary fall term in picturesque Hanover, New Hampshire — certainly not as COVID-19 cases continue to skyrocket across America. Rather, the College on the Hill has plans to invite a bit more than half of its undergraduate student body back this September. Dartmouth, with its longstanding D-Plan which allows students to take a fall, winter, or spring term off since sophomores are required to spend their summers in Hanover, is in some ways uniquely positioned to space out the number of students on campus in any given term. The plan of action outlined by Dartmouth President Philip J. Hanlon highlights how the school in the mountains of New Hampshire is capitalizing on its D-Plan to try to make everyone as happy as can be given the circumstances.
As President Hanlon writes in a message to alumni outlining the school’s plans to bring back more than half of students to campus this fall, “This will give each student the opportunity to spend two terms enrolled on campus this academic year and to enroll via distance learning from home for one or both of the remaining two terms. In the interest of class cohesion, the Class of 2024 will receive priority to be on campus as a residential cohort for the fall and spring terms and will enroll for an off-campus winter term. International students in the Class of 2024 who have difficulty securing a visa in time to begin the fall term will be permitted to enroll off-campus. Other undergraduates will be able to express their preferences for their two residential terms, with the understanding that the ’23s will receive priority to be on campus for the 2021 summer term (along with the ’22s who chose to defer their 2020 sophomore summer because of COVID-19). Members of the Class of 2022 will receive priority for the fall 2020 term and ’21s for the spring 2021 term.”
Dartmouth is not alone among our nation’s highly selective universities in announcing plans to re-open their campus this fall. As an example, the University of Pennsylvania recently outlined a re-opening plan. But only time — and America’s renewed response to the COVID-19 pandemic — will tell if these schools will actually be able to stick to their plans. Because our readers know all too well what they say about the best-laid plans…
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