Dear Middlebury Community,
As we prepare for the much-anticipated return of all faculty, staff, and students to campus for the fall semester, we are writing with some updates about the latest developments of the COVID-19 pandemic, vaccination requirements, and other expectations for the upcoming student arrival period and beyond. As always, our highest priority is the health and safety of the entire Middlebury community, and we will continue to be guided by science and the latest conditions. We know from our experiences of the last 18 months that we all must work together, remain flexible, and be ready to adjust at any time. We ask for your patience and understanding as we continue to navigate the pandemic together.
In this email, we will address the following:
- Fall Planning and Expectations
- Arrival Period Requirements and Expectations
- Vaccination Requirements and Deadlines
- Face Coverings Indoors
- Gatherings and Events
- COVID-19 Testing Protocols
- Visitor Policy
Fall Planning and Expectations
Our overall approach is one of living safely with COVID-19 in a community with a high vaccination rate, a high volume of traffic from out of town, and a high rate of change in the status of the virus itself. Our plan remains to establish a fully vaccinated campus community, with the exception of a small number of individuals with approved exemptions, and return to as normal operations as possible with in-person classes, events, and activities. At the same time, we continue to monitor developments of the pandemic, including growing concerns about the Delta variant, new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines for vaccinated individuals, and advisories from the Vermont Department of Health related to educational settings. We also know that during the arrival period many of those coming from international locations may not be vaccinated before arrival because vaccines are not available in their home countries.
In response to the recent spread of the Delta variant, and to provide greater protection to the entire Middlebury community, we will put in place additional mitigation measures at the start of the semester. Students and employees who are not vaccinated will continue to be required to wear face coverings indoors. Campus visitors must be fully vaccinated unless they have a valid medical or religious exemption, and all campus visitors must wear face coverings indoors. At this time, we also recommend that individuals visiting from areas with substantial to high COVID transmission rates wear face coverings in crowded outdoor settings. Please note that we continue to monitor developments and are considering a requirement for face coverings in public spaces indoors for vaccinated faculty, staff, and students during the early weeks of the semester.
Students who are not fully vaccinated, including those with exemptions, also will be required to complete a seven-day room quarantine after arrival, pending negative test results. “Fully vaccinated” means that two weeks have passed since a person received the final dose of their vaccine. This is in alignment with CDC guidance and Department of Health advice.
Currently, we do not anticipate physical distancing or capacity restrictions. We also do not expect to conduct regular testing of vaccinated individuals but instead will follow CDC guidance and test only students with symptoms or known COVID-19 exposures. Testing will be required for international arrivals and those who are unable to be vaccinated due to exemptions or lack of access to vaccines in their home countries. Employees with symptoms or known exposures should work with their healthcare provider or may sign up for a test through the state Department of Health or a local pharmacy.
At the conclusion of the student arrival period in late September, we will evaluate whether continued measures are necessary and will announce any changes via community announcements, the campus status website, and the fall website, to be published in the coming weeks. We will communicate regularly throughout the fall and the academic year.
Arrival Period Requirements and Expectations
The beginning of the fall semester will be a transition period, where students and some faculty and staff will return to campus from all over the world and the United States. This includes countries and states where the prevalence of COVID-19—and therefore the risk of infection and transmission—are much higher than in Vermont. We now know that it is possible for vaccinated individuals to contract and transmit COVID-19 via the Delta variant, which is the dominant variant in the United States. This increases the risk of infection and hospitalization for those who are unable to be vaccinated before their arrival due to a lack of access to vaccines in other countries, or for those who have religious or medical exemptions.
While vaccination remains the best protection against COVID-19, we expect that we will need to take additional measures to protect our community at the outset and during times of transition. Even in Vermont, where vaccination rates are the highest in the nation, the number of people testing positive is projected to rise in the next several weeks and then decline. If these projections hold true, the timing will coincide with our arrival period, and we will have more cases of COVID-19 on our campus in the coming weeks.
Our success last year was in large part due to students’ following the prescribed health protocols before they came to campus. We cannot emphasize enough how important this preparation is, and we ask you to be as vigilant this year as you were last year. While we do not plan to require prearrival or campuswide quarantine, it is critical that those returning to campus minimize any possible exposure before their arrival and do their best not to bring the virus to campus. This is essential if we want to keep our campus healthy and safe. Last year all students quarantined before their arrival. This year all students from areas with a substantial or high prevalence of COVID-19, including those who are fully vaccinated, should wear face coverings in public indoor settings from now until their arrival on campus. Wearing face coverings helps fully vaccinated people further reduce their risk of becoming infected with the Delta variant and transmitting it to others. Unvaccinated individuals should wear face coverings in indoor spaces where there is any risk of transmission.
Students should not come to campus under the following conditions:
- They have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 in the 14 days prior to arrival.
- They are sick or have symptoms associated with COVID-19.
A strong start to the semester and a successful fall will require all students’ cooperation with health protocols before and during the arrival period.
Vaccination Requirements and Deadlines
Middlebury requires all faculty, staff, and students to be fully vaccinatedin advance of their arrival on campus, as previously announced.
Enrolled students must complete one of the following by today:
- Upload proof of COVID-19 vaccination to their student health portal.
- Submit a medical or religious exemption to the student health portal.
- Contact Health Services to make a plan for vaccination upon arrival by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. This option is available only to those students coming to campus from international points of origin where they have not been eligible for vaccination.
Students who have still not taken one of these steps by August 17 are not eligible to come to campus and will be unenrolled. All unenrolled students will receive a full refund.
For Faculty and Staff
Faculty and staff must provide proof of vaccination by August 15, via the Sentry MD portal previously provided via Middlebury email and available on the College website. Employees who need to request a medical or religious exemption must complete the Vaccination Exemption Request Form on the Human Resources forms page.
We will have more information about compliance goals for employees after the August 15 deadline. Due to privacy concerns, we will not share the vaccination status of various departments or individuals. The Dean of Students and Human Resources offices will handle all compliance issues related to vaccination.
Face Coverings Indoors
In addition to vaccination, wearing face coverings is one of the most effective ways to protect ourselves from the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Unvaccinated individuals must continue to wear face coverings indoors (except when alone in a private space or work area, when eating or drinking, or when attending to personal hygiene needs in the bathroom), and outdoors when in groups where distance cannot be maintained.
If prevalence increases in Addison County or other conditions worsen, we may decide to require individuals living or working on campus to wear face coverings when in public spaces indoors, such as classrooms, labs, lounges, dorm common areas, and on shuttles, regardless of vaccination status.Faculty who are at increased risk for severe illness may also require students to wear face coverings in classes. Face coverings will not be required in residence hall rooms, when eating or drinking at the dining halls, or in individual offices.
Campus visitors are required to wear face coverings indoors. As stated above, once the student arrival period is completed, we will evaluate whether continued measures are necessary. Our decision will be based on current health conditions at the time.
We continue to be a mask-friendly campus: Any faculty, staff, or students who wish to wear face coverings for any reason are encouraged to do so.
Gatherings and Events
We do not plan to require physical distancing or to limit gathering sizes at this time. We also have adjusted our campus spaces back to their regular capacities. Signs noting COVID-19 capacity limits for classrooms and event spaces have been removed.
COVID-19 Testing Protocols
As of now, we do not plan to provide surveillance testing of faculty, staff, or students during the fall semester. Per the CDC, unvaccinated domestic and international students should get tested at home prior to travel within three days of their arrival date and not travel if the test is positive. We will conduct arrival testing on Days 0, 4, and 7 for unvaccinated students and also for students traveling to Middlebury from international points of origin, regardless of vaccination status. Students who are not fully vaccinated, including those who have submitted exemptions, also must remain in room quarantine for seven days after arrival pending negative Day 7 test results, per CDCguidance and Department of Health advice.
Testing for students who are experiencing symptoms or who have had an exposure will be available through Health Services and can be scheduled by calling the Nurse Triage Line at 802-443-3290.
Any faculty or staff member who wishes to have a COVID-19 test may make an appointment through the state Department of Health. Free testing is available at the Creek Road site in Middlebury or at local pharmacies. The CDC and Department of Health recommend that any individual with a known exposure to COVID-19 be tested within three to five days after exposure and wear a face covering for 14 days or until they receive a negative test result. This is regardless of vaccination status.
The CDC has released new domestic and international travel guidance in response to recent surges of COVID-19. Faculty, staff, and students should keep current with the latest guidance and be prepared to follow it. At this time, we do not plan additional restrictions on travel, but that could change based on prevalence.
The campus will remain closed to the general public during the arrival period, other than for family members who are fully vaccinated or have a valid religious or medical exemption during drop-off and events or programs that are approved by the appropriate College department.* Face coverings will be required indoors for all visitors during the arrival period. More information about drop-off will be shared once it becomes available.
Visitors to campus must be fully vaccinated unless they have a valid medical or religious exemption, and wear face coverings indoors.* We recommend that individuals visiting from areas with substantial to high COVID transmission rates also wear face coverings in crowded outdoor settings.
Guests of students are not allowed at this time.
Once again, thank you for all you have done and continue to do to keep our community healthy and safe. Because of you, Middlebury has remained a vibrant learning community throughout this pandemic, and we will do the same this year in a new environment. We look forward to seeing you soon on campus.
Chief Health Officer and College Physician
Vice President for Student Affairs
*Text was edited for clarification on August 13, 2021.