| by Laurie L Patton

Faculty, Fall 2020, Staff, Students

Dear Middlebury Community,

I am writing with some updates and information about the fall semester and Phase 2 of reopening the Vermont campus. Before I share the material below, I’ll take this opportunity to note that, several weeks into the semester, Middlebury’s campus is vibrant as our many learning communities come together.

Back to Class
With the third week of classes already under way, students and professors have been adjusting to the fall format of remote, in-person, and hybrid classes. A group of professors recently shared their impressions with Middlebury Magazine, many noting that these meetings were an important reminder of the meaning of a Middlebury education, our connection, and why we are all here. You can read more in Part II

On Thursday and Friday, September 24 and 25, students are invited to attend the first virtual Clifford Symposium. The symposium, named after the late Nicholas Clifford, a teacher, scholar, and administrator at Middlebury for many years, is titled The Rise of Big Data; it will explore big data’s history, ubiquity, challenges, and future. It will also examine why big data is important to how we live and learn at Middlebury and highlight how Middlebury students and faculty are using big data in innovative and productive ways.

Phase 2 Required Training for Students

On September 17, students who completed Phase 2 SafeColleges training returned to downtown Middlebury and Addison County, patronizing businesses and taking advantage of recreation opportunities for the first time since our fall reopening. We know this moment was one that our students greatly anticipated, and we are gratified to see so many students practicing the important health and safety measures that got us to this point. We have heard from several community members that they appreciate our students’ setting a positive example. 

As a reminder, the deadline is midnight tonight, Wednesday, September 23, for any students who have not yet completed the Phase 2 training to do so. Students and employees are responsible for compliance with the full text of the Phase 2 guidelines, which is available in newly revised Appendix A of the Return to Campus Guide

Athletics Complex Reopens for Students

As part of Phase 2, we also have welcomed students back to the Peterson Family Athletics Complex. As a reminder, the Peterson Family Athletics Complex is open for use by students only. Student reservations are required for many of the facilities and can be made on the Athletic Facility Hours Information website.

Dining Changes

Starting this weekend and early next week, we will be making changes in all three dining halls with the additions of limited indoor seating, reusable containers, and beverage stations. Students received more detailed information about our new line procedures and limited seating in a separate communication. We also will be adding bins outside dining halls to collect used food containers. And starting September 28, we will be reopening the Dining Services food truck. Dining menus are posted online

New Alert Levels Designated by Color

We recently created a COVID-19 Reporting webpage with new alert levels to indicate the operating status of the College during the pandemic. These alert levels are denoted by four colors: green, yellow, orange, and red. Even with a low prevalence of COVID-19, we will remain at the yellow level while students are living on campus, classes are in session, and extra precautions are in place. We will advance to the orange level if additional precautions are needed, and to red if we need to close our campus. Green is the lowest level and would indicate normal operations. The page also includes health and disciplinary data.

Phase 2 for Staff

While staff who work most closely with students have returned to campus, we continue our efforts to “de-densify” our campus by asking all staff who are able to work remotely to continue to do so. Any staff member who needs to return to campus for work purposes must coordinate a work plan with their supervisor and division head, who will submit the plan to Human Resources.

COVID-19 Leave

As previously announced, we have created a COVID-19 leave code for employees, which may be used for any COVID-19–related illness, including the need to care for a family member or to quarantine due to a potential exposure. As a reminder, if you are sick, you should contact your supervisor and not come to work.

Targeted Dynamic Testing   

We completed our first week of Targeted Dynamic Testing of staff last week. As always, the latest results are published on the COVID-19 Reporting Dashboard, and we will continue testing students and faculty and staff working on campus throughout the semester. If you are selected for testing, you will receive an email from covidtesting@middlebury.edu asking that you schedule a 15-minute appointment through Microsoft Bookings. If your department does not regularly use email, we will schedule appointments through your supervisor. Testing will be conducted Mondays and Thursdays from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.

If you are tested and receive a negative result, you will receive an email notification. Anyone with an insufficient sample requiring a retest or with a positive result will be contacted by the Center for Health and Wellness. Should you or someone who is determined to be a close contact test positive for COVID-19, you will receive a call from the Vermont Department of Health.

Flu Shots

Addison County Home Health and Hospice is assisting with both our Targeted Dynamic Testing and our upcoming flu shot clinics. Students may make appointments for flu shots, which are required for all except those with a documented religious or medical exemption, through the student health portal. Appointments are scheduled one week at a time while the flu vaccine is available on campus. We expect another shipment of flu vaccine in mid-October.

Annual influenza (flu) vaccines are recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for all U.S. citizens older than six months of age, barring any medical contraindications. The CDC also notes that vaccination reduces the burden of respiratory illness due to COVID-19 and the likelihood that an individual would need to quarantine if they develop respiratory symptoms. We will be offering three flu shot clinics for faculty and staff working on campus starting October 19 and encourage those working remotely to speak to their providers about the benefits of a flu vaccination.

Recognition for Vermont

In case you missed it, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, participated in a press conference with Governor Phil Scott and Commissioner of Health Dr. Mark Levine. Dr. Fauci commended Vermont for its work to maintain a low prevalence of COVID-19, calling our state a national model for how to reopen schools and businesses. He noted that the behavior of Vermonters and visitors, rather than our low population density, is responsible for staving off the virus. He emphasized that the virus is a “formidable foe” and that we must not let our guard down.

We know that the success of Phase 2 will depend on the essential behaviors of wearing face coverings, practicing physical distancing and hand hygiene, and limiting gathering sizes, as well as adhering to our conduct policies. We thank you for your continued work to ensure a successful fall semester.

It is wonderful to be able to come together again, even as we live and learn in different ways this semester.

Yours Cordially,

Laurie Patton