Resources and FAQs for Families
Find links to Middlebury resources and answers to your questions.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q How did you determine whether classes would be held online or in person?
Faculty had a choice of whether to teach their classes in person, create a hybrid in-person and online course, or teach online only. Other factors included the desire to meet the needs of students who chose to study remotely or could not be on campus because of an underlying health condition or difficulty securing a visa to travel to the United States. Some courses are required for seniors to complete their majors; those courses must be taught online to ensure that seniors who cannot be on campus can complete their degrees. In addition, since the majority of Middlebury’s classes are small, the majority of classrooms are also small. Not all classrooms are large enough to meet COVID-19 space requirements.
Q How are professors dealing with teaching remotely?
Faculty are excited to be back teaching. They spent months over the summer working with our digital learning experts and developing new skills through pedagogy and technology workshops. Faculty are becoming experts in engaging students through Zoom and other technologies so they can offer the immersive learning experience Middlebury is known for. They’ve built community in their classes, shared their expertise through live and recorded video and videoconferencing, and provided mentoring and feedback to students to support their learning. They have worked hard to ensure that courses are inclusive and accessible to students. Some changes faculty have made will be incorporated into how we teach going forward. For example, faculty teaching history courses have used digital annotation software to help students engage more deeply with course readings and to help students discuss course texts in context. Faculty teaching in person have also had to adapt their methods. For example, a biology professor who would normally take an entire class on a field trip now takes repeated trips with smaller groups of students.
Q Have students been following the COVID-19 rules? How many students have been disciplined?
The vast majority of students have been very conscientious about following the rules. To date, there have been 57 substantiated violations of the College’s COVID-19 policies, and 57 students have received sanctions. Twenty-seven of those students were removed from campus. Sanctions vary depending on the severity of the violation. Visit the College’s COVID-19 Conduct and Disciplinary Process webpage for more information. The COVID-19 Reporting Dashboard provides information on cumulative conduct-policy violations and cumulative testing results.
Q What happens when it becomes too cold to hold classes outside?
Every in-person class is assigned to a specific classroom, so the classes will move indoors.
Q Are students required to get flu shots?
An annual influenza (flu) vaccine is recommended by the CDC for all U.S. citizens older than six months of age, barring any medical contraindications. Vaccination reduces the burden of respiratory illness in our community and reduces the likelihood that an individual would need to be quarantined for eight to 14 days or longer due to concerns about COVID-19. Students, because they either live in congregate housing or have significant interactions with other students who do, will be required to get flu shots this year, barring any medical or religious exemptions. A specific medical and religious exemption form is available. Flu shots are being provided at no charge to all students this year. Any student who does not get a shot and does not have a valid medical or religious exemption will be in violation of the health pledge and could face conduct violation consequences.
Q What will the arrangements be for picking up students in November?
More information about this will be provided closer to November 20.
Q May students leave their belongings in their rooms when they leave in November, or do the rooms have to be emptied?
Students who plan to return to campus for the spring semester may leave their belongings in their rooms, but they will need to box them up and label the boxes in case the COVID-19 situation changes over the break. Students who are not returning—because they are graduating or planning to go abroad, for example—should remove all belongings from their rooms before departure from campus.
Q Will Middlebury test students before they leave in November?
Both testing of symptomatic students and the Targeted Dynamic Testing program will continue throughout the fall semester. If campus and local prevalence is low, it is unlikely that testing will be expanded to include all students. Plans are in place to offer testing to all students during the week of November 15 should the prevalence of COVID-19 increase. Testing in a low-prevalence situation, even with a highly specific test, can lead to false positive test results and is not advised.
Q What are you doing to allow students to socialize as the weather turns cold?
We have been exploring a number of options for creating inviting outdoor spaces on campus once the colder weather arrives. The Student Activities team continues to work with the College’s 175 student organizations to reimagine programming. A list of activities can be found on Presence. Students are encouraged to propose ideas and register their events with the Middlebury College Activities Board. We recommend that students reach out at least three weeks in advance for in-person events to ensure plenty of time for planning. Virtual events are also encouraged.
Q When will course registration for J-term and spring term be held? Will advisors be available during registration regardless of when it happens?
We are still planning the calendar for registration. The College recognizes the critical role faculty members play as students plan their courses of study, and faculty advisors will be available in a variety of ways—in person where possible, as well as via Zoom, email, and phone.
Q Will winter term (J-term) classes be held online or in person?
J-term will be conducted remotely, starting Tuesday, January 19, and continuing through February 12. Students who are approved to conduct research on campus will return on January 21 and begin their research on February 1. This is consistent with current state of Vermont guidance.
Q Will Middlebury offer a room-and-board credit for J-term?
Middlebury has never assessed a tuition charge for J-term on the Vermont campus. As there are no fees charged to the student, we do not provide financial aid. Because there are no tuition and fees assessed for J-term, there will be no credit or refund issued.
Q Will varsity winter sports teams compete this year?
NESCAC has suspended conference competition for the 2020–21 winter season. Given this decision and the continuing need to prioritize the health and safety of our community, we do not anticipate that Middlebury will be able to hold any athletic competitions during the winter season. As they did in the fall, our coaches will continue to hold team practices, workouts, and/or other activities for winter athletes when they return to campus for the spring semester as conditions allow. A decision about spring sports will be made in coming months in coordination with the NCAA and NESCAC. While NESCAC has not yet addressed spring sport competitions, spring athletes should be aware that current conditions would not allow us to engage in competition. If a decision is made to move forward with spring NESCAC competition, we will announce a separate February return date for spring athletes.
Q When will students return to campus for spring term? Will the College prorate the spring term room-and-board fee?
The spring semester will begin March 1 after a two-week break in February. There will be two arrival days, on February 24 and 25, followed by one day for late arrivals on February 26. Classes will begin March 1 and continue through May 21, forgoing the usual spring break to minimize comings and goings from campus. Similar to the fall, classes will be offered in a combination of remote, hybrid, and in-person formats. The College does not plan to prorate the spring term room-and-board fee. Because there will be no spring break, the number of days students will be in residence is only four days fewer than it would be in a normal spring semester.
Q What prompted you to do J-Term remotely and begin spring-term classes on March 1?
The Senior Leadership Group, Crisis Management Team, and Emergency Management Team worked with stakeholders across the College to examine scenarios for J-term and the spring semester. We considered the factors that contributed to our current low prevalence of COVID-19, the experiences of other colleges and universities, state of Vermont guidance, and the circumstances that we know will change once winter weather arrives in Vermont. With the colder weather, all of us will have to spend more time indoors, where it is more difficult to maintain physical distancing and where the virus can spread more easily. One of the biggest challenges for the coming months is the availability of indoor spaces for classrooms, dining, and other activities. That is why, after careful consideration, we decided to hold J-Term remotely and begin spring term classes on March 1. The state of Vermont has recommended that colleges and universities eliminate January terms or convert them to remote instruction to decrease instances of COVID-19 exposure due to travel from parts of the United States that have a higher prevalence of the virus. At Middlebury, we are making a number of changes to J-term this year to enhance the remote format and to allow students to complete internships either remotely or in person.
Q Will students have to do a two-week quarantine before returning to campus after break? When they do return to campus, will they have to undergo testing again?
Yes, both will be required. The spring arrival testing procedure will be similar to the successful process used in August.
Q What should students do if they need to stay on campus?
In cases of extreme hardship, students who plan to study on campus this spring may petition the College to remain on campus between Thanksgiving break and the beginning of spring semester. An email with more information and a link to this petition and related criteria will be sent to students soon.
Q What’s happening with Feb Celebration? Will we hold it in person or online?
A decision about February graduation is forthcoming, but we are considering options for a celebration before the end of the fall semester.
Q Will Feb Orientation be held online?
Orientation for February arrivals will be conducted remotely. The Offices of Admissions and Student Activities will provide more information to Febs once it becomes available.
Q Can students go skiing at Rikert and the Bowl?
Rikert Nordic Center and the Middlebury College Snow Bowl will be open to Middlebury College students, Vermont residents, and individuals who meet the state of Vermont COVID-19 restrictions on cross-state travel. Passes and tickets will be sold online through the websites and should be purchased in advance of arrival. Check the Snow Bowl and Rikert websites closer to opening for more information.
Q Will Schools Abroad reopen?
We will make an initial determination on October 30 about opening some schools and will decide whether to open any others closer to their starting dates. We are optimistic that some of our programs will continue, but this will depend on travel restrictions and conditions in our host countries.
Q Will Commencement be held in person? When will you make that decision?
Finals week will begin May 23, and Commencement will be held on May 30, either virtually or in person, depending on the conditions at the time.
Q My first-year student is struggling to meet people and find friends. What opportunities are there for first-years to meet one another?
We recognize that students are hungry for connections, and making those connections can be difficult, especially for new students. October is always one of the hardest months for first-year students. The newness has worn off, classwork and midterms are tough, and they are realizing they haven’t “found their people” yet, as that takes time. That said, we know that this year presents many more challenges for students to socialize. Our student life teams are continuing to provide creative programming for all students, and this work will continue as the weather changes and the needs of students change. Here are some ways that students can meet people.
- Check out Presence. Presence is the one-stop-shop for activities, events, and meetings where students can learn new skills, meet new people, and contribute to our community. It’s available as a website and as an app where students can set up notifications. Students can see a daily digest of events, search by topic, or browse student organizations to see what open events they are offering (even if they aren’t ready to join or aren’t interested in becoming a member).
- Connect with the Student Activities Office. With 175 student organizations to choose from, it can be difficult to know where to start. Our student staff and professional staff are available to chat with students about what they are passionate about, and what groups might be fun to join. Email SAO@middlebury.edu to connect with a staff member.
- Use the events calendars. There are many things happening on campus, and events that are publicized have been approved by our COVID-19 Events Review. All registered student organization events can be found at go.middlebury.edu/presence. Other events hosted by departments are listed at go.middlebury.edu/events.
- Connect with a first-year counselor. First-year counselors (FYCs) are organizing programs such as movie nights, snack sessions, and crafts. If your student doesn’t feel comfortable going to one of those events, encourage them to reach out to their first-year counselor for a walk or a meal. FYCs are great listeners, are passionate about helping students, and can often connect a student with others who share their interests.
Q What other resources are available to help students?
Middlebury provides counseling, coaching, and wellness education. We hope you will encourage your student to take advantage of these resources.
- Counseling groups: This semester’s groups focus on building coping skills (mindfulness, acceptance, positive self-talk, etc.) and joining together with others. These groups are a great way to connect with other Middlebury students experiencing similar challenges.
- College counseling, MiddTelehealth (TalkNow and scheduled counseling): Free mental health resources for enrolled Middlebury students include same-day or next-day appointments with staff counselors through College Counseling at email@example.com or 802-443-5141 to schedule. MiddTelehealth offers two options for telemental health: TalkNow is support for students who want to speak to someone in the moment for support or need crisis support; scheduled counseling appointments are available typically within a few days of students’ requests.
- Health and wellness education, health coaching: Health coaching involves supporting students as they set goals, name challenges, unearth values and strengths, and access intrinsic motivations to develop and sustain healthy behaviors and attitudes. Students can schedule up to two follow-up appointments with a health educator for a total of three coaching sessions per health issue. Health coaching is never a replacement for medical care or mental health counseling and is not appropriate for addressing crisis or emergency situations.
- CampusWell student advocate: Students receive a biweekly digest of health and wellness news, events, and skill-building articles. Parents, families, and supporters can follow along to see the information students receive and read through archived articles. You might also want to check out the main CampusWell [hyperlink to https://middlebury.campuswell.com/] website, which has information on everything from time management to relationship building to how to stay healthy.
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