COVID-19 Update and Student Testing Today
In this email we will address:
- COVID-19 on Campus
- State of the State
- Student Testing Available This Week
COVID-19 on Campus
After last week’s sudden increase in COVID-19 prevalence on campus, the number of new cases has significantly slowed. We have confirmed eight new student cases and two new employee cases since our last update on Monday, for a total of 58 active student cases and four active employee cases on campus. The brief transition to remote learning and curtailment of activities worked to reduce further transmission, allowed us to assess prevalence, and will help us to transition back to in-person instruction as quickly as possible. We expect that the numbers of active cases and students in isolation will continue to decrease this week as students complete their isolation periods, or safely move to off-campus locations with Health Services approval. Note that the numbers will be updated later today with the information reflected in this email. We will continue to update the COVID-19 reporting dashboard with new information until Tuesday, December 21. Any significant updates during the College closure will be sent via email announcements. The Campus Status page has the latest details on operations and COVID-19 protocols.
State of the State
Governor Phil Scott and state officials announced at their Tuesday press briefing that the number of new cases of COVID-19 in Vermont decreased by 15 percent over the previous seven days after a post-Thanksgiving surge, but cases in New England increased by 19 percent. Testing also decreased by about 10 percent in Vermont during that same time period. State officials said they expect prevalence to remain high for the next several weeks, with bigger increases following the upcoming holidays due to gatherings. There were 104 new cases of COVID-19 in Vermont higher education communities, largely due to the number of cases reported at Middlebury College. State officials noted that within one day of the increase in cases at Middlebury, the state added 500 additional testing appointments and distributed 400 at-home rapid tests in four locations in town.
State officials implored those who have not been vaccinated to do so as soon as possible and emphasized again the need for booster shots to ensure the best possible protection against the virus. Middlebury will require booster shots for all eligible faculty, staff, and students by February 14, unless they have a valid medical or religious exemption.
Vermont, which maintains the highest vaccination and testing rates in the nation, is prepared to increase its testing capacity and transition to offering antigen tests, in addition to PCR tests, as a way of managing the pandemic in the long term. Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine urged those who celebrate the upcoming holidays to do as follows:
- For those who are eligible, secure a booster shot as soon as possible.
- Plan ahead for holiday gatherings.
- Have the talk about vaccination status, boosters, and other protective measures.
- Stay home if you are sick or have symptoms of COVID-19.
- Plan to test before gathering and again five to seven days after gathering.
Student Testing Available This Week
COVID-19 testing is available for students today from noon to 3 p.m. at Virtue Field House. Students who are not experiencing symptoms may make appointments via the Bookings link for testing at Virtue Field House. Students who are experiencing symptoms should self-isolate, wear a well-fitting face covering at all times, and immediately contact Health Services at 802-443-3290, firstname.lastname@example.org, or self-schedule on the student health portal. Testing instructions for any students remaining on campus over the break are available here.
Thank you, and we wish you a restful and restorative break.
Chief Health Officer and College Physician
Vice President for Student Affairs