The following message was emailed to Middlebury College faculty and staff on Wednesday, August 30.
Dear Faculty and Staff,
As the fall semester approaches, we are writing with some information about the latest trends with COVID-19 and guidance to support a healthy return to campus. We sent a similar message to students, which you may find helpful should students come to you with questions or concerns.
In this email we will cover the following topics:
- Current COVID-19 Trends
- Mask-friendly/Mask-optional Campus
- Minimizing Transmission
- What to Do If You Test Positive
Current COVID-19 Trends
As you may know, the end of summer has brought with it an increase in COVID-19 cases nationally and here in Vermont including on our local campuses. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Vermont Department of Health note that while the predominant variants—EG.5 and XBB—are more contagious they tend to cause less severe illness than previous forms. Case counts are no longer considered reliable and are not tracked as they once were. Instead, health officials look to rates of hospitalizations and ICU admission as better indicators of the severity of the virus. What the most recent CDC data shows is that more than 96 percent of U.S. counties remain in the low category for COVID-19 hospitalizations. Still, an infection can cause symptoms that disrupt daily activities, and given the current trends, we expect that there will be more cases on campus this semester.
We at Middlebury continue to follow CDC and Vermont Department of Health guidance with an emphasis on personal responsibility for one’s own health and safety. Following you will find our latest advice and guidelines.
Studies continue to show that vaccination and prior infection provide significant protection against the worst effects of COVID-19 even if they do not prevent illness entirely. While not required, we continue to strongly recommend that all members of our community be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
We continue to follow CDC and Vermont Department of Health guidance on masking and ask that all members of our community respect the choices of others about whether to wear masks. We have ordered a new supply of masks, and they will be made available at the Davis Family Library circulation desk as well as in the Human Resources office at the Marbleworks.
Even though COVID-19 is highly contagious, there are a number of things you can do to slow its transmission, including the following:
- If you feel sick and have symptoms of a cold or flu, stay home from work and do not attend public gatherings or events.
- Wear a mask when around others.
- Be diligent about cleaning surfaces and any other shared spaces.
Employees should follow CDC guidance on testing which can be found here: COVID-19 Testing: What You Need to Know. Test kits are available at local pharmacies and/or through off-campus healthcare provider offices.
What to Do If You Test Positive
Those who test positive for COVID-19 or have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 should follow the CDC’s guidelines for Isolation and Precautions for People with COVID-19. In addition, we recommend the following for those who test positive:
- Consult with your health care provider about appropriate treatment and a plan of care.
- If you experience trouble breathing, call 911.
- Those who need to delay their return to the office or classroom due to a COVID-19 infection should contact their supervisor or the Dean of the Faculty to make any necessary arrangements.
Thank you in advance for doing all you can to keep yourself and our campus community safe and as healthy as possible this fall. And thank you also for helping to guide our students through these challenges.
Chief Health Officer and College Physician
Executive Vice President and Provost
Vice President for Human Resources and Chief People Officer