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COVID-19 numbers continue to rise at Franklin Pierce University

  • Franklin Pierce University Staff photo by Ben Conant—

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 2/17/2021 4:52:01 PM

The number of COVID-19 positives on the Franklin Pierce University campus continue to rise, while students have been ordered to shelter-in-place.

As of Friday, students on the campus entered a remote learning phase for at least 10 days, and were ordered to remain in their dorm rooms and not mingle.

As of Tuesday, the campus reported 48 total active cases on the Rindge campus.

“All students who remained on campus, as well as our commuter students, are being tested today,” Franklin Pierce University Marketing Director Marissa Colcord said in an email to the Ledger-Transcript Wednesday. “We are also offering time today for faculty and staff to receive testing. Returning students will be required to provide documentation of a negative COVID test, previous positive in the last 90 days or documentation of both doses of vaccine received prior to returning to campus.”

Students have been advised they are allowed to leave their dorms for activities such as doing laundry, hygiene, take out trash, grocery shopping, medical appointments, exercising outdoors, or getting food, but should not be leaving campus for other reasons unless specifically approved by the university, including for work.

Some students have been approved to leave campus for work, internships and essential errands.

“When leaving campus for essential needs, students are expected to remain diligent and cautious and abide by all health and safety guidelines including masks, social distancing and good hygiene,” Colcord said.

Doni Ash, owner of the Dublin Taproom in Jaffrey, said he was contacted by a Franklin Pierce student who works at his restaurant on Friday who informed him of the stay-in-place order. He said he and the restaurant’s manager had to fill in her four shifts scheduled for this week.

“It was Valentine’s Day – one of the busiest weeks of the year. I really feel sorry for the student, who wasn’t able to work and probably lost out on several hundred dollars,” Ash said. “But I understand the college’s policy and their rules, and we told her to stay home.”

Colcord said the current intent is to return to in-person classes on the Rindge campus as of Monday, Feb. 22, but the university will not make a final determination on whether to extend the shelter-in-place order until Friday.

“If there is need to extend the shelter-in-place, the length of time would be determined in conjunction with the COVID positivity rate on campus,” Colcord said.

Rindge Director of Public and Life Safety Rickard Donovan said the town has been holding additional emergency management meetings twice a month to review numbers, and met Tuesday with members of Franklin Pierce University’s Town and Gown Committee to discuss the shelter-in-place order and the current spike.

“They have been keeping us updated,” Donovan said. “We’re informed of what’s going on up there. They have a pretty good handle on it, and until further notice are doing virtual learning and sheltering in place. Anyone that violates their policies are going to be sent home.”

Donovan said while students may still be shopping at local stores for groceries, those who are quarantined or have a positive COVID-19 test are not allowed to leave campus. He said that since Rindge’s is a border town, shops such as WalMart, Hannaford and Market Basket already draw shoppers from Massachusetts, so residents should not use only the current positive cases at FPU or in Rindge when taking precautions.

“Like anything else, anyone that isn’t feeling well should act responsibly, and stay home. [Franklin Pierce University] is stepping up and doing the right things, but it always goes back to the individual.”

The Department of Health and Human Services reported 33 cases in Rindge as of Tuesday, Donovan said, but he said in general, numbers have been trending downward since a spike following the New Year’s Eve holiday.

“As long as our numbers continue to go the other way, hopefully things will continue to improve,” Donovan said.

Most other New Hampshire colleges have avoided spikes as significant as that which FPU is currently experiencing. According to the state’s COVID-19 dashboard, only UNH is reporting more active cases than FPU. UNH reported 402 active cases at the Durham campus on Tuesday, with more than 1,050 students quarantining, most off-campus. UNH has entered their “limited operations” model, which includes remote instruction for most classes, restrictions of student organization events, and regular testing of everyone on campus.




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