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FPU COVID spike cools down; shelter-in-place order expires

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 2/22/2021 5:41:18 PM

COVID-19 cases at Franklin Pierce University’s Rindge campus are dropping following a sharp spike that caused the university to issue a shelter-in-place order for students, which expired Monday.

“We are seeing our active case numbers decrease, and provided this trend holds throughout the weekend, the Shelter-in-Place will expire on Monday, Feb. 22, at 8 a.m.,” the university announced to students via a university messaging system on Friday.

Rindge Director of Public and Life Safety Rickard Donovan said Monday that the town has been in close contact with the university, and that as long as the college continues its testing and continues to see declining numbers, he is satisfied with the ending of the shelter-in-place order.

“Their numbers have been dropping. They’re heading in the right direction. As long as they continue their surveillance, make sure they’re doing their monitoring and continue working with the Department of Health and Human Services, I’m OK with it,” Donovan said, of ending the shelter-in-place initiative.

Classes are expected to return to in-person learning today, Tuesday, to allow for COVID-19 testing of students and staff who remained off campus for the duration of the shelter-in-place order.

Those who returned to campus are required to obtain a negative COVID-19 test at some point 72 hours before their return, or documentation of a completed vaccine regimen since Feb. 8.

Last week, the university directed students to enter a period of remote learning, and to only leave campus for necessary errands or with campus permission, and to segregate in their dorm rooms to try to stop a period of heightened spread of the COVID-19 virus.

Since returning to campus for the spring semester, the university has stepped up its testing protocols, testing more students more often. Last week, university officials put in place a shelter-in-place order after the number of active cases on campus spiked to nearly 50, significantly more than any other time since the university’s re-opening in the fall.

On Friday, the university announced it would sunset its shelter-in-place order, as originally scheduled, after seeing that number drop steadily. During the week, the entire population of the campus was tested. As of Thursday, the university reported a total of 39 active cases on campus. As of Sunday, it had a total of 29, and on Monday reported a total of 14.

As of Monday morning, the university re-opened its library and athletic center, though masking, social distancing and capacity limits are still being observed.

The dining hall has remained closed for in-person dining, with grab-and-go options for students.

Students room are still limited to their occupants only, and students have been directed not to visit each other’s residences or have guests.

The campus is continuing the normal COVID-19 protocols established in the fall, including social distancing and wearing masks in all public areas. Students may be sent home if they are found in violation of the campus rules.

Cheshire County, where Rindge is located, currently has a total of 135 active infections, or 4.6 percent of the total current infections in the state, according to the Department of Health and Human Services. Comparatively, neighboring Hillsborough, which contains both Nashua and Manchester, has a total of 835 active infections, the most out of any county in the state. Discounting the cases from Nashua and Manchester, Hillsborough currently has a total of 376 cases, or about 12 percent of the active cases in the state.


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