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Dickinson College updates on Spring 2021

Week of March 15, 2021

Weekly COVID-19 Update

Sent: March 19, 2021

To the Dickinson community:

I hope that everyone is enjoying a safe and happy spring break. With recent news of increasing vaccinations and state restrictions loosening in the coming weeks, I'm sure many of us are feeling hopeful that the worst of this pandemic may be behind us. However, it's important to note that the new virus variants mean that we must continue to be vigilant and follow our COVID-19 guidelines to ensure a successful second half to our spring semester.

Over the last 10 days, seven students and one employee have tested positive for the virus, which represents an increase over the previous 10 days. This information, which is available through the college's COVID-19 Dashboard, underscores the need to follow all of our safety precautions. As I said last week, the end of this long struggle may be in sight, but that's all the more reason why we must continue to work together so we can finish this semester Dickinson strong.

New Students Arriving and Fall Room Selection

The process for welcoming our second cohort of students to campus this weekend is moving forward smoothly. Thank you to all the staff members who helped the first cohort move out and to everyone helping to clean residential spaces as we prepare for the semester's second move-in days, March 19-21.

As explained previously, students arriving this weekend (and students who have new members joining their pod) will be in a "stay at home" period through the morning of Monday, March 29. In addition, any students coming to campus outside of these dates will be asked to stay in temporary housing and restrict their movement for seven days before moving into their pods with students who have already been on campus.

We are taking this step to make sure those students who have been on campus are not potentially exposed to the virus by those coming to campus for the first time. In addition, by asking students arriving outside the move-in dates to stay in temporary housing, we do not need to ask students already living on campus to restrict their movement again because of the new members joining their pod. At the end of the seven-day period, students may join their pod mates if they are not exhibiting symptoms and have tested negative for COVID-19.

As we look forward to the fall semester, returning students should note that room selection for the fall will be delayed until summer.


Our Community Action Network (CAN) continues working with local leaders to support widespread vaccinations in our area. As we reported recently, Cumberland County has joined with Quality Care Pharmacy to establish a large vaccination site at the former K-Mart building. The county and Quality Care have now partnered with AT&T to open a phone bank at this location to answer questions and support individuals in scheduling vaccine appointments. The phones will be answered during the clinic's hours of operation. The county will be relying on volunteers from the Medical Reserve Corps to answer the phones. Anyone who would be interested in supporting these efforts must sign up through This video will walk you through the process. This clinic has served over 5,800 doses in five days of operation thanks to the 6,000 hours provided by ServPa medical reserve corps volunteers.

You can find out about vaccine availability on the state Department of Health website. Also, the state has a Your Turn web tool to make it easier to find out when you are eligible to receive the vaccine.

Volunteer Opportunity

CONTACT Helpline, a 24-hour listening, health and human service information and referral service, is currently seeking volunteers and is inviting anyone in our community interested to join them on April 5 for the start of a volunteer training class. During the pandemic, their call volumes have increased dramatically, and they need more volunteers to help people in the Carlisle and Central Pennsylvania region as they recover from the pandemic or other life challenges.

The majority of the training will be held virtually in three one-hour sessions. After the virtual part of the training, there will be a few in-person apprenticeships with the support of a trainer. Once volunteers are fully trained and comfortable on the phones, they can work from the phone room, which is maintained based on CDC recommendations, or from home. (To work from home, you need to have a computer or laptop connected directly to the internet. Wireless work is not supported by their cloud telephone system. Additionally, you will need to have an appropriate headset and a confidential and private location to handle calls.)

For more information, contact the CONTACT Helpline business office at 717-652-4987 or

Thank you again for your resilience and flexibility during this time. As we continue to respond to this pandemic, I am impressed and inspired by the work you have all done to help keep our community safe. I truly appreciate your efforts on behalf of the college, its mission and this community.


Margee M. Ensign