Coronavirus developments across New England:
Half of the student body at Dartmouth College will be back on campus by Jan. 18, but most undergraduate classes will continue to be taught remotely.
In an online community conversation this week, Provost Joseph Helble said confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Grafton County are 10 times higher than they were in October.
“If the disease begins to accelerate and we find that we are getting increasing caseloads that reach the point where they are difficult to manage, we are going to have to very carefully assess our plans,” Helble said.
Given the lengthy rollout of the coronavirus vaccine, Helble said, a return to regular operations is unlikely this spring. In the meantime, college officials are expanding wellness offerings and winter activities, including ice skating rinks on the campus green.
Lt. Gov. Daniel McKee is quarantining at home after coming into close contact with someone who later tested positive for COVID-19, officials said Saturday.
The lieutenant governor learned of the close contact Saturday morning, has since tested negative and is showing no symptoms, officials said. He will continue to be tested and will remained quarantined until midnight on Jan. 12, officials said.
McKee is poised to serve the remaining two years of Gov. Gina Raimondo's term after Raimondo was named Democrat Joe Biden's Biden’s pick for commerce secretary.
McKee said in a statement that “no one is above the rules of quarantine.”
“As a state official, I am committed to modeling the kind of response to this virus that I hope all Rhode Islanders would have. I will continue to meet with public health leaders and receive other critical briefings remotely,” he said.
Lt. Governor Susan Bysiewicz is self-isolating after a member of her staff tested positive for the coronavirus.
Contact tracing was underway, and all members Bysiewicz’s staff who had been in close contact with the unidentified staffer will self-isolate, said her chief of staff, Adam Joseph.
Bysiewicz tested negative Thursday and will work remotely while self-isolating, Joseph said.
This is the first known case of coronavirus within her office. The staffer who tested positive has not exhibited any symptoms and is at home in quarantine.
Lewiston school officials are hoping a drive-through COVID-19 testing site for staff could help students get back into the classroom more quickly.
School officials are planning to open the drive-through testing site as soon as next week at Lewiston Middle School with the help of St. Mary's Health System, the Sun Journal reported. Rapid tests will be available to staff only initially, but the district could consider expanding it to students if it goes well, Superintendent Jake Langlais said.
“I’m really focused on how we can get back in school and stay in school as much as possible,” Langlais told the newspaper. “Being out of school is just really hard on families and teachers across the spectrum. It’s just not the same. So, the effort is to try to increase our capacity to test all those that we can.”
Students have been learning remotely since the holiday break.
The temporary field hospital at the DCU Center in Worcester has seen more patients in 35 days than it did during the six weeks it was open when cases surged in Massachusetts in the spring.
The field hospital, which reopened early last month, has taken care of more than 300 patients in 35 days. Nearly 70 patients were being treated there on Friday, Peter Lancette, director of the field hospital’s operations told The Telegram & Gazette.
“We’re definitely seeing an increase in our admissions over the last couple of days,” Lancette told the newspaper.
The facility treated 162 patients when it was open between April 9 and late May, Lancette said.
The Vermont Agency of Education is working a plan for education recovery work to mitigate the impact the coronavirus emergency has had on students, Education Secretary Daniel French said Friday.
Three areas of focus will be on mental health and well-being; reengagement and truancy; and academic success and achievement, he said during the state’s biweekly virus briefing.
The agency anticipates requiring each school district to submit a recovery plan, which will help as the state determines how to coordinate the use of federal coronavirus relief funding, he said. The state is expected to get $133 million for K-12 education, he said.
French said expects schools to start engaging in recovery work later this winter and into the spring, which will require more in-person instruction and in-person contact.
“So as the conditions improve in the coming months and the advent of more vaccine and warmer weather, we expect most schools will be able to return to nearly full in-person instruction after April vacation,” he said.