| by Derek Doucet

Spring 2021, Students

Dear Students,

We’re excited to welcome in-person learners back to campus, and remote learners to our virtual community for the spring term! This week’s Dean of Students update includes critical reminders, arrival details, fun opportunities (including for remote learners), and helpful information about our COVID-19 health and safety expectations. 

Required SafeColleges COVID-19 Training and Spring Semester Health Pledge

Today is the due date for the required SafeColleges training which includes the spring Health Pledge. If you have not yet completed the training, please do so immediately. Failure to complete it constitutes a COVID-19 health and safety violation and may result in a hold placed on your campus housing. 

Arrival, Weather, and Recent Exposures

We’re closely monitoring the weather for our Sunday and Monday arrival days, and so far local conditions look favorable. We recognize that some of you may encounter unanticipated delays while in transit. If you will miss your arrival testing appointment due to travel delays encountered on your way to campus, please call the Arrival Helpline at 802-443-5055. If you are sick or exposed to someone with COVID-19, please do not come to campus. Notify your dean by email, and we will work with you to figure out the best option for a delayed arrival.

Campus Status Webpage

The Campus Status Webpage is our primary means of communicating and updating the COVID-19 related privileges and restrictions in place this spring. Please get into the habit of checking it regularly. We suggest that you check it a minimum of three times per week.

COVID-19 Health and Safety Violations 

Students have expressed concern about inadvertently violating health and safety requirements and being dismissed from campus. To be clear, we do not want to send anyone home, and you can have a great semester living within our health and safety expectations. We are, however, obligated to enforce these expectations both by the order of the governor of Vermont and our responsibility to maintain community health. 

It is important to note that not every violation leads to dismissal from campus. Behaviors with the potential to significantly increase the risk or potential risk of viral transmission are likely to lead to dismissal. An example of a violation that might lead to dismissal is simultaneously violating space occupancy and group gathering size limits. Another example is violating quarantine or isolation requirements, which are critical to our efforts to limit and contain spread of the virus. These behaviors have led to outbreaks on other campuses and cannot be tolerated. Conversely, minor violations are likely to lead to lesser consequences. For example, one incidence of exceeding space occupancy limits in a residence hall room by having one or two too many people present, or occasionally forgetting to wear a face covering, while concerning, are unlikely to lead to dismissal from campus. 

Remember though that COVID-19 violations are cumulative over the course of the semester, so repeated violations, even if minor, can eventually lead to dismissal if the behavior persists. Finally, as a reminder, if you are approached by Public Safety, your full cooperation is expected. Under no circumstances may you refuse to identify yourself or run. Such behavior is unacceptable, will be addressed through our standard (non-COVID-19) disciplinary processes, and will likely lead to consequences up to and including suspension. 

Open Office Hours

Director of Environmental Health and Safety Jen Kazmierczak, Chief Health Officer and College Physician Mark Peluso and I will hold open office hours Friday afternoons from noon to 1:30 p.m., starting on March 5. These open meetings will provide an opportunity for you to pose questions and offer feedback to some of the staff members working most closely on COVID-19 management. Mark your calendars and save this link.

Introducing our new Virtual Café!
We took to heart your desire for a space for casual conversations with other students, and we are launching Virtual Café––a place for you to make new connections, hang out with friends, and just have fun in an informal setting. The first Virtual Café is this Saturday, February 20, 11 a.m. to noon EST, and we hope to see you all there! We will be using a new software platform called Remo that should be fun and easy to use. Please sign up here, so we can send you an invitation. You will be able to submit “table topic” ideas (e.g., television, movies, books, music, art, or photography; surviving quarantine; cooking; board games and card games; video gaming; learning languages; travel and outdoor adventures; or “just for fun”, etc.). Two randomly selected virtual café attendees will win $25 cash. You must attend to win!

Town Meeting Day Ballots
Town Meeting in Middlebury is Tuesday, March 3rd. Though campus quarantine means that you will not be able to vote in person, students registered to vote in Middlebury can request a ballot by mail on Vermont’s My Voter Page. You can bring completed ballots to the Mail Center once room quarantine ends. No postage is necessary. If you have any questions about Town Meeting voting, reach out to MiddVotes!

Warm wishes and safe travels,

Derek Doucet
Dean of Students