Dear Middlebury Community,
In this email we will address the following:
- Expected Changes in Our Testing Strategy
- Booster Clinic Today on Campus
- State of the State
- Student Testing Next Week
- Employee Testing
Expected Changes to Our Testing Strategy
We continue to develop our COVID-19 testing strategy on campus, and will provide more specifics soon. For now, we are pleased to share that Middlebury recently secured 30,000 antigen tests, and we have more on order. We will begin distribution to students and employees in early March and will provide guidance on when it is best to use PCR versus antigen tests.
Members of our community continue to report results of home antigen tests to us, and we are refining procedures for reporting those results and identifying and informing close contacts. With the addition of home antigen tests, we expect that individuals will play a bigger role in determining when it is appropriate to be tested based on personal health circumstances.
In general, rapid antigen tests are intended for early identification of COVID-19 in individuals experiencing symptoms. PCR testing plays a key role in our mitigation strategies, especially for post-close contact asymptomatic testing, confirmation of a negative antigen test result in symptomatic individuals, or any required testing, such as for travel documentation purposes. The Vermont Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offer more information about the differences between PCR and antigen tests.
Booster Clinic Today on Campus
As of this week, approximately 96 percent of both students and full-time, benefits eligible employees are in compliance with our vaccination and booster requirements. We expect we will be closer to full compliance by next week as we continue to work with individuals to secure vaccination and update their records.
As previously announced, we are partnering with the Vermont Department of Health and MREMS to offer a Pfizer and Moderna booster clinic TODAY, Wednesday, February 23, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in Goldsmith Lounge at Virtue Field House (Room 298). Walk-ins are welcome. Students and employees may sign up for an appointment through Bookings and contact firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.
The Vermont Department of Health COVID-19 Vaccine website has information on other local clinics. Please note that the clinic at 55 Middle Road in Middlebury accepts walk-ins from 9 a.m. to 4:15 p.m., Wednesday through Friday, and from 9 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. on Saturdays.
As a reminder, Middlebury requires that all eligible faculty, staff, and students receive a COVID-19 vaccination booster, or have an approved medical or religious exemption. Students must upload their updated vaccination record via the student health portal. Employees must upload booster documentation via the SentryMD portal and will receive confirmation of the upload two business days after doing so. Any member of the campus community who is not yet eligible and does not have an approved exemption must receive a booster within 14 days of becoming eligible and then upload their documentation.
Employees with questions regarding the booster requirement and how to upload their records should contact Human Resources.
State of the State
State officials at the governor’s weekly press conference reported that cases of COVID-19 continued to decline, by 28 percent in Vermont over the past week and by 88 percent since the Omicron peak. The rate of new hospitalizations, ICU admissions, and deaths also has dropped, and PCR testing is less in demand with the growing availability of rapid antigen testing.
Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine said state health officials are assessing how much PCR testing will be needed in coming months and when antigen tests can better meet the needs of Vermonters. He noted that antigen tests are more convenient, provide results more quickly, and prompt isolation sooner to prevent further spread of the virus.
The state also is moving to a more individualized approach to pandemic management, where individuals will base their protective measures on the potential risks to themselves and others. The state continues to watch the Omicron BA.2 variant, which appears to be more transmissible than Omicron but is not yet contributing to a rise in cases in Vermont.
Student Testing Next Week
Required PCR testing continues this week and next week for all students except those who are exempt because they have recovered from COVID-19 within the past 90 days. Students must sign up for appointments using the student testing link. We will offer appointments for optional testing on both days, including for those identified as close contacts, as capacity allows.
On-campus employees who are not experiencing symptoms may sign up for testing on campus on Monday, February 28, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., using the employee testing link. Close contacts of cases within our community will be able to schedule testing appointments on days that we offer asymptomatic testing to students. Employees who are symptomatic must secure testing through their healthcare provider, the Vermont Department of Health, or a local pharmacy.
We encourage all to review the instructions for Those Exposed, Symptomatic, or Who Have Tested Positive for COVID-19, which can assist individuals in making plans and anticipating decisions ahead of time based on their health status and level of vaccination.
As always, thank you for your partnership as we continue to work together to protect our community, adjust as needed, and move slowly toward more and more normal times.
Chief Health Officer and College Physician
Vice President for Student Affairs