COVID-19 Test Results and Start of In-Person Classes
| by Mark Peluso and Derek Doucet
Dear Middlebury Community,
We are writing with an update on our COVID-19 test results for the student arrival period ending March 4, and with some information about how we plan to progress with the spring semester.
Of the 5,943 tests administered between February 21 and March 3, six were positive, 5,870 were negative, and 67 individuals are being retested due to an insufficient sample or inconclusive result. The students who tested positive are in isolation housing, receiving care and support, and we have completed contact tracing. As of today, 10 of 25 students remain in quarantine due to exposures on campus or before arrival. Seven employees have recovered.
Overall, this is good news and an indication that the vast majority of students successfully completed pre-arrival quarantine and followed room quarantine and health and safety protocols. These numbers also show that we have a higher prevalence of COVID-19 in our community than we did in the fall, one indicator that has prompted us to continue with more frequent testing at least through next week, including testing all students again next Monday, March 8, and Thursday, March 11.
Testing for All Students Continues Today
All students will be retested today, and as always, the latest results will be on the COVID-19 Reporting Dashboard by noon each day that we receive results. Students should check their email for instructions from COVIDTesting@middlebury.edu about booking testing appointments. Those in quarantine due to exposures also will receive Day 7 tests at the end of their respective quarantine periods. Keep in mind that we could still see positive test results this week and throughout the semester.
Start of In-Person Classes, Indoor Dining, and Travel Off Campus
With all of this in mind, we plan to begin in-person classes on Friday, March 5, to open the Peterson Family Athletics Complex for workouts by reservation, and to allow limited indoor dining on Saturday, March 6. Starting today, March 4, students may travel to the town of Middlebury for essentials, takeout food, and recreation. Free admission and rental equipment will be available for students who wish to go to the Snow Bowl and Rikert Nordic Center this weekend and through the remainder of the season. Reservations are required—details will be shared in a separate email. Safe transportation guidance for students traveling in personal vehicles is available here. Expectations for students using Tri-Valley Transit can be found on the TVT website. TVT will offer direct transportation from Adirondack Circle.
Importantly, this plan is contingent on maintaining a low number of cases on campus. Students should check the Campus Status webpage for the latest information about what is and is not allowed. Please also refer to the Spring 2021 Campus Guide.
It cannot be emphasized enough that how we conduct ourselves in the next few weeks will determine how we manage COVID-19 on our campus this spring. We must strictly follow College and state health and safety protocols and abide by the conduct policies in place. Even with the progress we are making nationally with vaccines and lower case counts, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director reminded our nation this week that it is still too early to relax protocols and return to our pre-pandemic ways of living. We must do everything we can to prevent a semester-altering outbreak, including the key practices of wearing face coverings, regular hand washing, and physical distancing.
First Webinar for Students on Friday, March 5
We will be offering our first open office hours webinar for students with Dean of Students Derek Doucet, Chief Health Officer and College Physician Mark Peluso, and Director of Environmental Health and Safety Jen Kazmierczak from noon to 1:30 p.m. on Friday, March 5. We will begin the discussion with a review of upcoming changes to the Campus Status webpage and will define and set parameters for close contacts in alignment with the state of Vermont guidelines. Students also will have the opportunity to ask questions during the webinar. We invite you to submit questions ahead of time using this form.
As a reminder:
- Any student on campus or enrolled to study on campus and living off-campus who is experiencing symptoms or who has been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 should immediately call the Health Services nurse line at 802-443-3290, or after hours contact MiddTelehealth.
- Further instructions for students who feel sick and additional information on contact tracing are available in our Health FAQ.
- Any student who wishes to speak to Counseling may do so by calling 802-443-5141 during business hours, or through MiddTelehealth at any time.
Thank you again for your tremendous work to this point and for your continued partnership. If you have further questions, please email email@example.com.
Chief Health Officer and College Physician
Dean of Students