| by Laurie Patton

Faculty, Staff, Students

Dear Students, Families, Faculty, and Staff,

I’m reaching out with some brief updates since we were last in touch, late yesterday. This Midd community of ours, here and away, has just been extraordinary. Because—of course you are. I needed you to hear that first. You have my deepest admiration and thanks as we all navigate this most difficult time. It is a time of sudden sadness and truncated hopes. And in the midst of that, the human connection has been deep and real.

Here’s some of what we’re seeing:

COVID-19. There are no confirmed cases in Addison County or on the Middlebury campus at this time.

Departures are going smoothly. About 1,000 students left Middlebury yesterday, 400 are leaving today, another 650 will be on their way tomorrow. We expect roughly 175 students to remain to do their own “remote learning,” but from their rooms here on campus. As I made the rounds on campus this morning, I met student life staff, students, and parents all in different phases of packing up. I felt the closeness that can come from shared human experience amid life’s most stressful circumstances. (I’ve never seen such joy, by the way, at the mention of the word “boxes.”) This past week has been a tumultuous journey for us all.

The Class of 2019.75. Leave it to Midd Kids to figure things out. Our seniors have given themselves a new name, and last night—into this morning—those who were still here watched the sun rise over the Green Mountains in the graduation tradition. Seniors: We’re distressed your final year has been disrupted in this way. We really want you back on campus, and we know you want to be here, too. Because we can’t predict the course of the COVID-19 spread, we don’t yet know about Commencement. But we promise we’ll be honoring you and what you’ve all achieved in some special way. We’ve already been thinking about different possibilities. We might need to get creative, so we’ll be in touch with you for your ideas. We know you’ll have excellent ones.

Room Checks. We’ve been working one-on-one with students and families on their last-minute plans to ensure the smoothest departures possible. We’ve also been letting them know—as we’re obligated to give all students advance notice—that staff will be entering rooms (including those of students approved to stay) to do room checks. This is a standard safety precaution.

Here’s some of what we’re planning for:

Monday communications. Watch your email for these updates:

  • To students: Provost Jeff Cason and Dean of Faculty Sujata Moorti will send all students a memo with details about the academic program. In addition, Dean of Students Baishakhi Taylor will write—to those students who will remain on campus—about what to expect day-to-day, services available, and more. She will also be sharing information about mental health resources for our community.
  • To faculty: Provost Cason and Dean of Faculty Sujata Moorti will send all faculty a memo with essential details on the academic program and what that looks like going forward.
  • To staff: VP for Human Resources Karen Miller and EVP for Finance and Administration David Provost will write to all employees with details clarifying protocols and practices in our new environment, including information on pay and benefits, sick leave, telecommuting, and more. We know this is an anxious time. 

Emergency preparedness. The senior leadership group and Middlebury’s Crisis Management Team will continue to meet around the clock to make sure we’re as prepared as possible for any eventuality. Tomorrow, we are coordinating with emergency response personnel from the Town of Middlebury and Porter Hospital. We’re constantly in touch with our peers at other institutions, and, like you, are following CDC updates and keeping up on the latest news. Here’s the latest from Vermont.

Resources website. As always, keep checking back to our resources pages. We’re updating our FAQs regularly and posting the complete record of our communications to the site.

I think that’s a fitting place to sign off for now. I’m looking at the picture of the class of 2019.75, taken this morning at sunrise, and feeling sadness, gratitude, and respect. Expect to hear from us Monday, though of course we’ll be in touch before then, if necessary.

Be well.

With appreciation,

Laurie Patton