Contact Tracing, Isolation, and Quarantine
Contact tracing is a key public health strategy for preventing further spread of COVID-19. Contact tracing begins when a person who has tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 or been diagnosed with COVID-19 is asked to provide information about other people they have been in close contact with during the time when they may have been infectious and able to transmit the virus.
In order to assist the contact tracer, students and employees should be able to recall people with whom they have been in close contact each day. Some individuals might choose to keep a list. This information helps to quickly identify those who may have been exposed. The Vermont Department of Health or a Middlebury staff member will reach out confidentially to students or employees who have been identified as having had close contact with the person who had COVID-19 and will provide them with information and resources to quarantine. To protect privacy, contacts are informed only that they may have been exposed to someone with the infection. They are not told the identity of the person.
In order to ensure full compliance with contact tracing, information gathered in the contact tracing process is not shared with the Office of Community Standards or otherwise used in conduct processes.
See also the Vermont Department of Health information on Close Contacts & Contact Tracing and fact sheet on what to do if you’re a close contact.
Contacts of Contacts
Sometimes, individuals who know a person with COVID-19 may wonder if they are at risk for developing the illness, even if the Department of Health does not contact them. Examples include friends of roommates of the infected person or coworkers of an individual who has a family member at home diagnosed with COVID-19. In most cases these people are considered a contact of a contact and are not considered to be at risk for developing illness. Contacts of contacts are therefore not required to quarantine unless they are in direct contact with someone who tests positive.
Isolation and Quarantine
Isolation is required for people who test positive for COVID-19 or are diagnosed with COVID-19 and need to be separated from others to avoid infecting them.
Individuals who test positive may be temporarily moved to a designated residential space (called isolation housing) to reduce the chance of infecting others.
For students, Health Services will check in regularly via Zoom, telephone, or secure messaging, or in person, depending on the individual situation. Mental health support will be available for students through Counseling and 24/7 through MiddTelehealth. Student Life staff will be available to support students as well. All meals will be delivered throughout the isolation period. Students in isolation who feel well enough to do so can continue to participate in course work and other activities virtually until they complete the isolation period. No visitors will be permitted inside or outside of isolation housing.
Employees should contact their healthcare providers. Individuals with moderate to severe illness will likely be referred to Porter Medical Center or the University of Vermont Medical Center for further care and monitoring.
For individuals who do not have symptoms before testing positive, isolation will normally last 10 days. However, some individuals may require additional time in isolation, depending on the course of their symptoms. Individuals must remain in isolation housing until medically cleared by Health Services (students) or their healthcare provider (employees). Under no circumstances will individuals be allowed to leave isolation housing until
- 10 days have passed since their COVID-19 symptoms first appeared (or 10 days have passed since they had a positive viral test for COVID-19 and have had no symptoms) and
- 24 hours have passed with no fever without the use of fever-reducing medications and
- Other symptoms of COVID-19 are improving.
Please see the CDC’s guidance on “When You Can Be around Others after You Had or Likely Had COVID-19.”
Employees not living on campus who need to isolate will do so at their homes and may not return to work until they have met the Vermont Department of Health guidelines for recovery and have final clearance from Human Resources staff. See also the CDC’s guidance above.
Quarantine is a way for individuals who may have been exposed to COVID-19 through close contact with an infected individual to limit their contact with others while it is determined whether they have COVID-19.
Students or employees identified through contact tracing who need to quarantine will be contacted by Health Services or the Vermont Department of Health, as applicable. College staff will provide specific instructions on where the individual will complete the quarantine period (either in their current room or a residential space designated for quarantine).
Individuals with no symptoms who have been vaccinated with a FDA-approved or an EUA vaccine (Pfizer, Moderna, or Johnson & Johnson) or a World Health Organization–approved vaccine may not be required to quarantine, but they will have to monitor for COVID-19 symptoms for 14 days. Individuals who received a foreign-government-approved or EUA vaccine may have to quarantine depending on Vermont Department of Health guidance, and they also must self-monitor for COVID-19 symptoms for 14 days.
During quarantine, individuals living on campus must remain in their room and may not leave for any reason except to use the bathroom, go for a walk outside following specific instructions, or pick up a meal from a designated delivery point in the building. Students will generally participate in course work and other activities virtually until they complete the quarantine period. Students in quarantine will be required to submit a daily symptom report and will be supported by Health Services, Counseling, and Residential Life staff.
Employees living off campus who may have been exposed to a person with COVID-19 will also need to quarantine in their homes. They are not permitted to work on campus until they have completed the quarantine as instructed by the Vermont Department of Health.
Individuals will remain in quarantine for 14 days from the date of exposure or until they receive a negative Day 7 test, if they have had no symptoms. If symptoms develop, the quarantined individual must be evaluated for active COVID-19 infection and must continue to follow Vermont Department of Health guidelines.
Individuals who wish to complete exposure-related quarantine or isolation away from Middlebury rather than remain in isolation on campus may be permitted to do so only in exceptional circumstances, and depending on current state requirements. If state requirements allow, students must obtain permission from Health Services after submitting a plan for safe travel and isolation. Employees must obtain permission from their supervisors. Individuals who wish to return to campus after isolation may be subject to additional testing and/or quarantine requirements before and upon return. Individuals must understand that, depending on the timing of their request and other circumstances, they may not be able to return to campus.