Coronavirus Scare For Tuck After Students Attend Event With Infected Patient

Coronavirus is here, and it’s already causing chaos for U.S. business schools. For one prominent B-school, however, concerns about the deadly virus known as COVID-19 have reached a new level.

Dartmouth College’s Tuck School of Business is dealing with the fallout over students’ possible exposure to the disease that has killed thousands, mostly in China, and infected 128 in the U.S. at last count. On Friday (February 28), Tuck students attended an invitation-only event that was also attended by an employee of the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center who had been exposed to coronavirus during a recent trip to Italy. That employee, who reportedly broke quarantine to attend the event, was diagnosed with the virus himself on Monday (March 2).

On Tuesday morning, Joseph Hall, Dartmouth Tuck senior associate dean for teaching and learning, and Sally Jaeger, associate dean of the MBA program, sent a message to the entire Tuck community saying that all of the students who attended the event had been notified and that all were deemed to be “at low risk” by the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services, “because they were believed not to have had any direct contact with the employee.” Hall and Jaeger said no limits were placed on the students’ activities, including attending classes; however, they were urged to follow DHHS guidelines for self-observation “out of an abundance of caution.”

The event, which took place across the state border in White River Junction, Vermont at a venue called The Engine Room, reportedly drew 125 to 150 students, an estimate based on ticket sales. In a pair of recent Facebook posts the venue’s owners said The Engine Room has subsequently been sanitized and that several upcoming events have been canceled.


Joe Hall. Dartmouth photo

As Poets&Quants has reported, U.S. schools have been scrambling to postpone, reschedule, or cancel events abroad and domestically that require travel, as the spread of the COVID-19 virus continues and fears — justified or otherwise — flare up.

Now Dartmouth has become the first business school to deal with the possibility of exposure to the coronavirus on its own campus.

Reached by email on Wednesday, Lindsey Walter, Dartmouth Tuck director of public relations, said the school is in close communication with state health officials and the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center and “are coordinating efforts with colleagues across the institution to ensure everyone’s continued health and safety.” She noted Tuesday evening reports that a second DHMC patient, also an employee of the medical center and a close contact of the first patient, had also tested positive for COVID-19.

“We have been notified by DHMC that the second patient was NOT at the social event with Tuck students on Friday, February 28,” Walter tells P&Q. “At this time, there are no Dartmouth students considered to be close contacts of the DHMC employees.”

Walter pointed to a Dartmouth-wide COVID-19 resource page where students and others can find updated announcements. At the top of the page, a statement reads that “Dartmouth has formed a high-level task force to plan for and manage possible disruptions related to the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak, monitor federal and state recommendations, implement guidance, and communicate with our community. The task force is meeting daily to synthesize the latest information, consult with experts, analyze risk, and prepare for various scenarios. The health and well-being of our community members is our priority.”

See Hall and Jaeger’s full statement to the Dartmouth Tuck community below.


To the Tuck Community,

Yesterday, we learned that a number of our students had attended a social event on Friday, February 28 with a Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center employee who was subsequently confirmed to have tested positively for COVID-19.

All of those students, who have been notified of this fact, were deemed to be at low risk by the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services because they were believed not to have had any direct contact with the employee. No limits were placed on their activities, but out of an abundance of caution, they were asked to follow DHHS guidelines for self-observation, which you can find below.

Those who have been identified as having potential direct contact with the employee are being required to stay at home in self-quarantine for a period of up to 14 days.

We recognize that this may be a stressful time for many of you. We remain in close contact with health officials from Dartmouth and DHMC and are coordinating efforts with colleagues across the institution to ensure the continued health and safety of our community.

Joe & Sally

DHHS COVID-19 Self-Observation Guidelines

1. Remain alert for respiratory symptoms (cough or shortness of breath) and fever.

2. If you feel feverish or develop a cough or shortness of breath:

• Take your temperature.
• Limit contact with others.
• Seek health advice. Before going to a doctor’s office or emergency room, call ahead and tell the provider or office about your recent travel and symptoms.

3. Practice strict respiratory etiquette and hygiene including covering your nose and mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing and washing hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap is not available.


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