Weekly VP Update January 14
Dear MIIS Community:
Cases of the highly transmissible COVID-19 Omicron variant have begun to appear in Monterey County. We are monitoring the rapidly-evolving situation, including changes in public-health guidance. I encourage you to read these weekly updates thoroughly to stay informed of campus protocols and practices, which will likely change alongside changes in the Omicron situation. Keep in mind that the best protection against COVID-19 and its variants is to get your booster and wear a well-fitting mask.
Academic Format in J-Term and the Spring Semester: Spring 2022 semester classes will continue in the same hybrid format as the fall 2021 semester, with virtually all courses offered in either a hybrid (i.e. with at least some students participating in-person in our classrooms) or fully online format accessible to students, whether they are based in Monterey or elsewhere.
Vaccine Boosters Required by January 28: Verification of COVID-19 booster shots will be required by January 28. If you have not already done so, please be sure to get your booster within the next two weeks. Booster verifications for all members of the MIIS community can be uploaded into the Sentry system by logging in with your middlebury.edu email address. Vaccine and boosters locations in Monterey County can be found here. Students not yet eligible for a booster by January 28, due to the timing of their second vaccination, please email Ashley Arrocha, Associate Dean of Student Services, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Face Coverings Required Indoors, N95 and KN95 Masks Encouraged: The Institute and the State of California continue to mandate face coverings indoors. Experts suggest that cloth masks are not as effective in preventing the spread of the Omicron variant. To prevent the spread of COVID-19 and its variants, members of the Institute community are strongly encouraged to wear N95, KF94, KN95 masks, all of which feature high filtration efficacy. Cloth masks should only be worn in conjunction with surgical masks. All masks should be well-fitted and worn to completely cover your nose and mouth, as loose-fitting masks do not provide adequate protection. For help determining what masks to purchase, we recommend the website of ProjectN95, a non-profit organization that vets masks.
Cigna Medical Plan Now Covers COVID-19 Antigen Tests for Employees: Employees and their dependents who are enrolled in Middlebury’s medical plan can now be provided at-home COVID-19 antigen tests at no cost. This applies to all enrolled employees regardless of where you reside, which includes MIIS employees.
Each employee and their dependents enrolled in the Cigna medical plan may be reimbursed for Covid-19 antigen tests.
o Each person on the plan may be reimbursed for up to four Covid-19 antigen test kits per month (thus a family of four could receive reimbursement for up to 16 kits per month).
o A test kit typically includes two tests, and they are intended to be used in a home setting.
- Coverage will be retroactive to December 1, 2021, and will continue until March 31, 2022, for a total of four months.
- While there is an approved list of kits, Middlebury will reimburse employees for any COVID-19 testing kit purchased.
- At this time, we are awaiting further guidance from Cigna on the reimbursement process. Proof of purchase with a receipt will be required. Please save any of your COVID-19 Test Kit purchase receipts. More details will be provided as soon as we have more information.
- If you used your Flexible Spending Account (FSA) or your Health Savings Account (HSA) to pay for these kits, guidance will be provided about returning that money to the accounts appropriately, as well.
Please contact email@example.com or 802.443.5485 if you have any questions.
Reminder of Ventilation Improvements: HVAC filters across the MIIS campus have been updated with higher-efficiency rated MERV-13 filters in all mechanical units on campus, and the filters are being replaced again over J-term. Increasing air filtration has been recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) to help exposure-reduction strategies. MERV, Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value, is a measurement of the effectiveness of an air filter. Airflow system improvements for increased ventilation and improvements in outside air intake have been made in campus buildings, in alignment with industry standards.
Returning From Winter Break: Faculty and students are strongly encouraged to get tested for COVID-19 before returning to campus. A COVID-19 testing site is available at the Portola Hotel & Spa at 2 Portola Plaza in downtown Monterey, within easy walking distance of the Institute. Free PCR tests are available from 7 AM - 4 PM Tuesday through Saturday. There are other vaccine and testing locations in the local area, including at the Tuesday Farmers Market (including rapid antigen tests), the Monterey Airport, and Monterey Peninsula College. We’re hearing reports of longer waits for results of PCR tests and will continue to monitor lag times and provide guidance if and when feasible. Residents of Munras Housing will receive separate guidance on testing requirements.
Thanks for your continued diligence in keeping the campus community safe during these difficult times.
VP for Academic Affairs and Dean of the Institute