Coronavirus Coverage - Colleges and Universities | New Hampshire Public Radio

Coronavirus Coverage - Colleges and Universities

Dan Tuohy | NHPR

The state's university system is feeling the effects of the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic.

At the University of New Hampshire, some students are leaving campus early as the school reports record numbers of new COVID-19 cases.

39 students have voluntarily left the campus in the past week, and another 27 were evicted from housing, according to an email from Senior Vice President for Student Life Kenneth Holmes.

Dan Tuohy | NHPR

The University of New Hampshire is reporting a record number of COVID-19 cases on campus.

The school's weekly positive case number has doubled since last week, now at 67. Of the total 84 active cases, 73 are students, and a total of 351 people are in quarantine, more than triple the amount quarantined two weeks ago.

Deborah Birx stands at a podium on a stage at Plymouth State.
Daniela Allee / NHPR

At a visit to Plymouth State University today, Doctor Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, warned that rural areas like New Hampshire could see a continued increase in COVID-19 cases. 

Front entrance of UNH Law.
Jessica Hunt/NHPR

College has been back in session for a little over a month. How are things going, for students, staff, and college towns? We talk with leaders at the University System of New Hampshire, and take your questions, and stories, about this new, unprecedented school year. Students, professors, and staff members, tell us: what has been going well, and not so well, this year? And what questions do you have for the university system?

Air date: Thursday, October 8, 2020. 

Dan Tuohy | NHPR

Editor's note: This story was updated to reflect changes UNH made, after this piece was first published, to how it publicized the absentee voting events.

University of New Hampshire students will be able to register and vote absentee on campus in October. It's part of a strategy to cut down on crowding and long lines at Durham's polling place, which is often one of the busiest in the state during high-turnout elections. 

Senator Jeanne Shaheen standing at microphone next to UNH senior vice provost Marian McCord.
Todd Bookman/NHPR

The University of New Hampshire has processed more than 99,000 COVID-19 tests since July. The high volume, according to school officials, is allowing the school to identify and isolate positive cases rapidly before they can spread.

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The school’s model is drawing praise from state and local officials, including Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, who toured the school’s testing center on Monday.

A tweet from UNH faculty member Clark Knowles
Via Twitter

During Wednesday’s legislative session at the University of New Hampshire's Whittemore Center, a handful of state representatives drank beer and did not wear masks outside of the center, despite the town of Durham’s mask mandate.

UNH students and staff have criticized this behavior online.

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Dan Tuohy / NHPR

College presidents provided an update on Thursday to the University System of New Hampshire board of trustees on how reopening is going.

Jim Dean, president of the University of New Hampshire, said most of the 80 active cases of COVID-19 on campus are asymptomatic students.

Via Theta Chi UNH on Facebook.

State health officials are investigating a potential outbreak of COVID-19 tied to a large fraternity party at the University of New Hampshire last weekend.

Eleven people diagnosed with COVID-19 have connections to the August 29 party hosted by the Theta Chi fraternity.

Dan Tuohy / NHPR

As the new college semester gets underway at campuses across New Hampshire, state health officials are reporting 25 active cases of COVID-19 at five schools across the state.

Shannon Jackson

College students this year are experiencing profound changes with what it means to be in college, and that’s led some to completely change their plans.

NHPR’s Daniela Allee has this story of how some college freshmen are making this year work for them. 

As the fall semester gets underway, college students are reuniting with their friends, getting (re)acquainted with campus and doing what college students often do: partying. But in the time of the coronavirus, as more parties surface university administrators have been quick to condemn — and even berate — the behavior of students.

"Be better. Be adults. Think of someone other than yourself," pleaded a letter to students at Syracuse University following a large gathering on campus.

Dan Tuohy; NHPR

As we head into fall, K-12 and college students and staff prepare for the new school year. Meanwhile, large events, from bike rallies to weddings, across the country and in New England, have been linked to outbreaks, as summer tourism reaches a peak in New Hampshire. We talk with epidemiologists about where we are now, with testing, tracing, and preparedness, and how to stay safe this fall. 

Air date: Thursday, August 27, 2020. 

Dan Tuohy / NHPR

As students from across the country return to college in New Hampshire, New Hampshire Public Radio wants to hear how the return to campus is going.

Take a few minutes to tell us how it’s been. If you’re a student, do you feel comfortable back on campus? Is your college cracking down on gatherings?

Or are you a professor or staff member at a college? Are you worried about your safety, or even your job security?

If you can't see the embedded survey below, click here for a better experience.

Via Plymouth State web site

Plymouth State University students are required to get tested for COVID-19 and provide a negative test result before returning to campus. But the university says there are delays in getting those results.

The delay has affected several hundred students' planned move-in to campus. Instead of a staggered return with each student assigned a specific day and time, PSU is now allowing students to move in whenever they get that negative test result through Sunday.

Dan Tuohy / NHPR

Students are already returning to New Hampshire’s university and college campuses for the start of the fall semester -- amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Below are some frequently asked questions about higher education reopening in the state. We’ll be updating this post as reopening begins in earnest over the next few days. 

UNH Says Students Must Sign COVID Consent Agreement Or Go Home

Aug 18, 2020

Only students who sign an informed consent agreement will be allowed back on University of New Hampshire campuses this fall, according to new information from college officials.

NHPR Staff

The state says multiple college students have tested positive for coronavirus at home before returning to campuses in New Hampshire.

State health commissioner Lori Shibinette says it's a success for the state's pre-arrival testing requirements for returning students. She did not disclose how many students have tested positive before returning. She says some are in other states, and some are in New Hampshire.

Dan Tuohy | NHPR

The Board of Trustees of the University System of New Hampshire approved reopening plans for UNH, Keene State and Plymouth State on Tuesday. 

Those plans include on-campus and in-person instruction for students. The university system is also offering online options for students who do not want to return to campus. 


Friday is the new deadline by which students in the University System of New Hampshire have been asked to sign an informed consent agreement before arriving on campus.


Nearly 700 students have now signed a petition asking for an extension on when a signed consent agreement is due before arriving on the UNH campus in the fall for classes.

The petition is asking that the deadline to sign the agreement be pushed back two weeks. 

Dan Tuohy / NHPR

Update: This story was updated on Monday, July 20 with a statement from the University System of New Hampshire.  

The University of New Hampshire is asking students to sign an informed consent agreement before arriving on campus in the fall for classes, though some students say they want more information from the university before signing.

Sarah Kolk

In early May, the Exchange interviewed three college seniors living in New Hampshire about their commencements, summer plans, and feelings about the future. We recently checked in again to see how they’re doing and how their job searches are coming along. 

Sarah Kolk studied Anthropology modified with Biology as well as Geography at Dartmouth College.

How are you doing Sarah? What’s changed for you since we last spoke? 

Flickr Creative Commons / Brave Sir Robin

Dartmouth College has announced that it plans to allow about half of its undergraduate student body back each term starting this fall.  

Students arriving on campus this fall are required to get tested for COVID-19, and to quarantine for 14 days after arrival. Dartmouth plans on staggering those arrivals.

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Ed Meyer / Dartmouth

New Hampshire colleges will likely continue with some aspects of virtual learning when students return to campuses this fall. It's a particular challenge for disciplines like earth science, which rely on field trips and physical lab work.

Sarah Gibson, NHPR

The University System of New Hampshire plans to work with the state Community College System to safely welcome students back to college campuses across the state soon.

Flickr Creative Commons / Brave Sir Robin

Dartmouth College says it has seen a surge in current and accepted students asking for more financial aid amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The college says it’s anticipating an increase in financial aid of $8 to $10 million more for next school year.

What will happen on college campuses in the fall? It's a big question for families, students and the schools themselves.

A lot of what happens depends on factors outside the control of individual schools: Will there be more testing? Contact tracing? Enough physical space for distancing? Will the coronavirus have a second wave? Will any given state allow campuses to reopen?

For all of these questions, it's really too early to know the answers. But one thing is clear: Life, and learning for the nation's 20 million students in higher education, will be different.


College seniors face a lot of uncertainty these days, not only about their final grades and graduation, but also about a job market in upheaval.

We talk about the challenges facing the Class of 2020 and hear from New Hampshire students who are leaving school and heading out into the real world. 

Air date: Tuesday, May 5, 2020.

NHPR Staff

The state's community college system is seeking millions in federal COVID-19 aid.

Most of the money would be for tuition assistance. The community college system wants more than $29 million to help students pay for classes.

Chuck Ansell is the system’s chief financial officer. On Wednesday, he told members of the legislative committee advising Governor Sununu on COVID-19 aid that the state's community colleges are ready to help create a workforce relevant to local economic needs.