Dear Friends of International Students,
ISSS has been extremely busy these past couple of days, communicating with our international students and scholars regarding the ever-evolving COVID-19 situation. As valued members of the Middlebury College community, we want you to be aware of the latest developments on campus. The decision to move to remote learning took many of us by surprise and we are doing our best to communicate out to our many constituencies.
Middlebury College decides to offer remote learning, starting on March 30 until early April. (The College will re-assess at that time.)
On Tuesday afternoon, President Patton sent an email to our community indicating that the College, in its decision, “looked for opportunities to eliminate, as much as possible, the need for students, faculty, and staff to congregate. We also sought to minimize the risk that the virus would be introduced to our campus from the outside.” (Please the complete message to the Middlebury community at https://www.middlebury.edu/office/announcements/previous-announcements/covid-19-remote-instruction-and-other-measures).
At this time, the College is moving forward with plans to offer courses via distance education after spring break. Spring break begins this Friday, March 13, after classes end, which is one week earlier than scheduled. This will be a two-week break to prepare for classes resuming—remotely—on Monday, March 30. The College will re-assess the situation in early April to determine if we will continue remote learning to the end of the term.
ISSS has been working diligently to assist our international population with this transition. Here is what’s happening in a nutshell.
- Students on campus were asked to complete a form—with either Departure Information or to Request Permission to Stay—by 3 pm on Thursday.
- For those who requested to stay, some students are receiving initial responses asking them to fully exhaust exploring other U.S.-based options. They still may be granted permission to remain if they cannot make alternative arrangements. If their request to stay is denied, the College is prepared to assist students with limited resources with the purchase of airline tickets to travel elsewhere in the country or to depart the U.S.
- We are striving to minimize the number of students who remain on campus in case COVID-19 arrives in our community. So, if students have any option to depart campus or the U.S., we are recommending that students do so. For students from countries where there are travel restrictions or for whom there are other extenuating circumstances, the Deans will make decisions about permission to remain on campus by Friday mid-morning. We expect that they will carefully consider the specific situations of the individual students.
- Students are expected to leave campus by 8 pm on Friday. However, if they are having difficulty departing by then, they may submit a revision to their departure form, requesting to leave any time before Sunday, March 15 at 5:00 pm.
- The Office of International Programs & Off-Campus Study (IPOCS) will provide School-specific information to students who are studying abroad. As of today, IPOCS determined that would suspend all in-country activity at our sites abroad and would offer remote learning for students in those locations. See their FAQs. ISSS will continue to advise international students participating on those programs.
- ISSS will be providing international students with further guidance regarding their visa status and travel reminders.
- Students have been advised to check the FAQ page, which the Dean of the College Office is constantly updating.
As outlined in our FIS information sessions, we do not want host families to feel obligated to provide housing or assist with other needs. This is especially true when the decision to minimize the number of students on campus is based on a world-wide health crisis. Obviously, this is a very stressful, hectic time for all of us, especially our students. As students finish in-person classes this week, make travel decisions, and pack belongings, please know that if you reach out to your host student, they may not respond right away. We expect that they will appreciate the outreach, and will likely respond in their own time.
The College does not expect or recommend that FIS hosts house students during this time. If a student is approved to stay on campus, hosts may invite students to places in town or to their homes, at their own discretion. However, students cannot take trips to Burlington or other more populated places, and must reside on campus. Once a student leaves campus housing, they will not be allowed to return to reside on campus until such time as the College determines that we will re-open the residence halls. This is important for the health and well-being of our community members on campus and beyond.
Please continue to check the Middlebury College website for the latest news regarding this situation at http://go.middlebury.edu/covid19.
Thank you for your patience, we wish all of you the best of health in the days to come.
Carolyn Dahm and Kathy Foley
Carolyn Dahm (pronouns: she/her/hers)
International Student & Scholar Services (ISSS)
Kathy M. Foley (pronouns: she/her/hers)
Associate Dean and Director of International Student & Scholar Services (ISSS)
Middlebury College and Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey