Dear Middlebury Community,
In this email, we will address the following topics:
- New Booster Recommendations
- State of the State
- Antigen Tests for Students and Employees
- PCR Testing on Campus
- New Policies for Close Contacts
- Changes to COVID-19 Paid Leave
- Mask Optional Policy
New Booster Recommendations
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Tuesday recommended a second booster of the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines for certain immunocompromised individuals and those 50 and older who are at least four months out from their first booster. This followed the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)’s approval. As of now, we have not made any changes to our vaccination policy but we are following CDC guidance closely and we will provide updates once we have more information.
State of the State
The state of Vermont has not yet released recommendations about second boosters. Governor Phil Scott and state officials said during their weekly press briefing that the BA.2 variant, a more contagious form of Omicron, comprises 72 percent of the cases of COVID-19 in New England and 55 percent of cases across the United States. The seven-day average for cases in Vermont continues to decline––by 87 percent since the Omicron peak––and hospitalizations have dropped significantly. COVID-19 testing has remained fairly steady.
State officials noted that they are looking at prevalence of COVID-19 statewide rather than basing recommendations on the CDC’s county-by-county community levels. The CDC updates the community levels map each Thursday. This week, several counties in Vermont, including Addison, moved to low community level, and some were redesignated as high.
As of Friday, April 1, state vaccination clinics will be walk-in only; appointments will not be needed. The plan is to phase out state-sponsored COVID-19 vaccination clinics over time, moving those services back to pharmacies and healthcare providers, where vaccination services typically reside.
The state continues to offer appointments for on-site PCR or take-home antigen or LAMP (similar to PCR) tests. More information about how to make an appointment and when to take the various types of tests is available on the state’s COVID-19 testing website and Middlebury’s COVID-19 Testing and Reporting Instructions.
Antigen Tests for Students and Employees
We continue the distribution of antigen tests for students and employees on campus as follows:
Antigen tests are available for pickup in the dining halls at check-in, at the Virtue PCR testing center, at the Davis Family Library circulation desk, and at Health Services.
Antigen test kits and N-95 and KN-95 masks are available for all employees at the Human Resources Office at Marble Works, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., and at the Davis Family Library circulation desk.
PCR Testing on Campus
We will offer PCR testing on Mondays and Wednesdays, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., and Thursdays, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m, this week and next week. No appointment is needed. More information is available on the COVID-19 Testing page.
Note that employees who are symptomatic may use a home antigen test kit and/or arrange testing through their healthcare provider, the Vermont Department of Health, or a local pharmacy. See also COVID-19 Testing and Reporting Instructions.
New Policies for Close Contacts
Middlebury follows VDH guidance which eliminates a testing requirement for asymptomatic individuals who were exposed to someone who had COVID-19 as long as they are up-to-date on their vaccinations. Those who are unvaccinated or not up-to-date on their vaccinations and are a close contact still must be tested. See the testing instructions for exposed students and employees.
As a reminder, students and employees who report positive test results will be provided with instructions on how to identify and notify their own close contacts. This matches the approach taken by the state of Vermont, which relies on individuals to conduct their own contact tracing and notifications.
Changes to COVID-19 Paid Leave
Given that, in accordance with VDH guidance, we no longer require quarantine for employees who are identified as close contacts, Middlebury will no longer offer COVID-19 paid leave for quarantine after an exposure. COVID-19 paid leave will be offered in the following situations:
- When a staff member tests positive for COVID-19, is instructed to isolate, and is unable to perform their work remotely.
- When a staff member requires time away from scheduled work to receive a COVID-19 vaccination or booster.
- When a staff member requires time away from scheduled work to recover from side effects of the COVID-19 vaccination or booster.
All other absences or leaves, including the need to quarantine in certain circumstances, will follow Middlebury’s normal processes for Combined Time-Off (CTO), Sick Leave Reserve (SLR), Vermont Earned Sick Time (VEST), Family and Medical Leaves of Absence (FMLA), Short-Term Disability (STD), personal leaves of absence, and worker’s compensation.
Knowing that some circumstances still will require leave, Middlebury is temporarily expanding the use of the Medical Leave Assistance Fund (MLAF) to cover COVID-19-related absences. Effective through May 31, employees who have exhausted their CTO and SLR may apply for assistance.
Mask Optional Policy
As previously announced, Middlebury College became mask optional on March 18. Masks still are required in certain circumstances as outlined in the mask policy.
Masks are welcome and encouraged for anyone else who wishes to continue to wear one. Individuals and departments that would like to display signs about mask preferences may download them for printing.
We ask again that community members exercise kindness, compassion, and patience for others in support of their personal choices and health needs. Employees who have questions about whether to continue to wear a mask at work should discuss this with their supervisor.
Thank you for your attention to these updates. Should you have questions, please write to COVIDInfo@middlebury.edu.
Chief Health Officer and College Physician
Vice President for Student Affairs
Vice President for Human Resources and Chief People Officer