Editor’s note: The opinions expressed below were from Rich DiPentima, who formerly served as interim state epidemiologist, and Nora Traviss, a professor at Keene State College.
By Rich DiPentima
The decision by Governor Sununu to deny out-of-state resident students attending colleges and universities in New Hampshire makes no public health sense and places NH residents at risk.
These students are in reality living full-time in NH while attending school. They are not restricted to their campuses, and visit other communities in the state, go to and work in restaurants and attend other events potentially exposing others to Covid-19.
NH has one of the highest percent of out of state students attending our State colleges and universities. Many of these students live great distances from NH, and are unable to travel home to get a Covid shot.
These students who attend state schools pay very high out-of-state tuition fees to our state and spend their money in NH.
The decision by Sununu is based on politics, not public health. This virus does not know the difference between a student who is a NH resident and one who is a resident of another state living in one of our college towns.
There is sufficient vaccine available now to immunize these students. It is long past time to put science and public health over self-serving political posturing.
By Nora Traviss
As someone who is on the front lines teaching in person at a NH college, a decision not to vaccinate out-of-state students is appalling. It puts those who work in all colleges – public and private – at risk when vaccines are available. It is not based on science, as outlined by Ben and Rich.
College students work as servers in restaurants, as grocery workers and other essential jobs. So this decision not to vaccinate puts people in nearby college communities at risk, as current active cases remain high today in these communities.
There seems to be plenty of vaccine supply with the opening up to 16 y/o plus next week. I sincerely hope there will be reconsideration of this decision. I thought we wanted young people to stay, live, spend money and get jobs in NH? Stop the brain drain that is happening in NH? That’s NOT the message being sent by the Governor’s Office.
Nora Traviss, PhD, Professor, Environmental Studies, Keene State College
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