Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff,
We are writing today about the surge in COVID-19 cases in Vermont (mirroring the rise nationwide), and the important actions we must take during the final week of in-person instruction on the Vermont campus.
In this message, we will address:
- Context: COVID-19 Surges in Vermont and the United States
- Actions Required: Mandatory Campus Quarantine
- What Campus Quarantine Means: What’s Changing and What’s Not
- Pre-Departure Testing: Timing (details forthcoming)
COVID-19 Surges in Vermont and the United States
During the past week, COVID-19 cases have surged in the United States and the world. Cases in Vermont and Addison County have risen to record levels for the second day in a row, and reached numbers we have not seen since the pandemic emerged here. With high prevalence in nearly every county in every state in the nation, the Vermont Department of Health on Tuesday suspended its COVID-19 travel map and instituted a mandatory quarantine requirement for all who travel to and from Vermont. The state also recommends avoiding social gatherings where face coverings are not worn and physical distancing is not maintained.
At the same time, we are preparing for the end of in-person classes on campus, and students are planning travel to locations with higher prevalence of the virus, to reunite with family and friends, some of whom are at higher risk for developing serious symptoms.
Colleges in Vermont, nearby states, and throughout the country have already instituted full room quarantine and remote learning in response to outbreaks. We want to prevent that at Middlebury.
Mandatory Campus Quarantine and Required Actions
Simply put, while we currently have no known cases of COVID-19 on campus, it is now imperative that we take the following steps to ensure the safest possible departure for students and to protect the entire community:
- We will move to a mandatory campus quarantine beginning at 6 p.m. on Friday, November 13, and continuing until student departure, through Saturday, November 21.
- We will offer optional testing for all students on Monday, November 16 and Tuesday, November 17. International students and others who need date-specific testing for travel will be tested on those days as planned.
- Current on-campus classes, services, activities, group gathering sizes, and room capacities will be maintained. If local health conditions worsen or there are changes in our campus COVID-19 dashboard, we will consider further restrictions and communicate any new expectations.
Students should consider campus quarantine a key component of pre-departure protocols, just as they prepared for fall arrival on campus. Faculty and staff working on campus should continue to follow the same health and safety protocols for working on campus that we have followed to this point.
As of 6 p.m. Friday, November 13, mandatory campus quarantine, described below, will be in effect.
What is Changing:
- Once campus quarantine takes effect, students must stay on campus. Students requesting permission to leave and return to campus for essential or urgent matters must email and receive approval from the dean of students. All emergency needs should be directed to Public Safety.
- All College activities are limited to within the boundaries of campus.
- Students who are in-person learners living off campus may continue to come to campus for classes and activities, but should not travel into town except for essential or urgent matters.
What is Not Changing (if conditions permit):
- All on-campus activities will continue as planned. Please check Presence and the campus calendar for a full listing. As of now, the in-person Feb celebration will continue as planned.
- Current room, suite, study, and gathering space capacities will remain the same.
- Dining halls will remain open as scheduled.
- The portions of the Trail Around Middlebury (TAM) that cross campus will remain open for student use.
- All students are required to complete the End of Semester course on SafeColleges to prepare for a safe end of the semester.
- Deliveries from local businesses may continue to be sent to and picked up at 75 Shannon Street.
- All students must continue to practice the essential health and safety measures of wearing face coverings, physical distancing, and good hand hygiene. All campus COVID-19 policies and community standards continue to apply.
- Students planning to leave campus early for break may still depart as planned and do not need to change travel plans.
- Families or friends may pick up students but may not enter any campus buildings. We encourage one pick-up guest per student, whenever possible, and no more than two guests are permitted. Guests planning to stay overnight should consult the most recent Vermont travel and quarantine guidelines. Pick-up guests must limit stops en route to campus and in town and must remain with their vehicles when on campus. They must also follow the same Vermont contactless pick-up protocols that applied to drop off at the beginning of the semester.
- No other guests are permitted on campus.
As part of our pre-departure protocols, we will offer testing for all students on Monday, November 16, and Tuesday, November 17. Please keep in mind that test results represent a specific point in time and are not a guarantee that an individual will not become infected before departing campus. The goal of this precaution is to reduce the likelihood of travel delays and quarantine for those who test positive or are identified as close contacts. Email questions about testing here.
Should we identify any positive cases through this testing, those individuals will be required to isolate on campus, and their close contacts will need to quarantine for 14 days or until they receive a Day 7 negative test result.
Important note: we will send a RAVE text alert to remind students of mandatory campus quarantine on Friday, November 13, in the evening.
We know how different and challenging this semester has been. But it was your dedication and commitment to each other that has kept our community safe, enabling us to accomplish so much—together—in a most difficult and unprecedented time. We are deeply grateful for how you have met and responded to these challenges, and we thank you for your continued vigilance.
Chief Health Officer and College Physician
Environmental Health and Safety Officer
Acting Dean of Students