New COVID-19 Isolation Requirements, Student Testing, and Dining Changes
Dear Middlebury Community,
In this email we will address:
- New Isolation and Recovery Requirements
- New Required Student Testing Schedule
- Employee Testing
- Changes to Employee Reporting and Contact Tracing
- New Masking Guidance and Mask Distribution for Students
- In-Person Dining
- Student Spectators at Athletic Events
New Isolation and Recovery Requirements
As previously announced, our plan was to move to a shorter isolation or recovery period as soon as possible, in accordance with CDC and Vermont Department of Health guidance. Therefore, we have changed the requirement for students in isolation, in-room recovery, or recovery off-campus from 10 days ending on Day 11 to five full days, ending on Day 6 if the criteria below are met. Please keep in mind that Day 0 is the date the positive test was taken or when symptoms began–whichever occurs first–and some individuals may require additional time to recover.
Following is the criteria for students to end isolation or in-room recovery on Day 6:
Five full days have passed (Day 6) since their COVID-19 symptoms first appeared or, if they have no symptoms, since the date they took a test that was positive for COVID-19. The following conditions also must be met:
- They never had symptoms or their symptoms have improved and they feel better.
- They have had no fever for at least 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medicine.
They must wear a well-fitted face covering at all times indoors or in public through Day 10, even if they have tested negative on one or more antigen tests prior to Day 10.
They may not travel or go to restaurants, dining halls, or other places where masking is not feasible. Their meals will be grab and go.
Students must inform Isolation and Quarantine Housing staff about their departure from isolation or in-room recovery based on the directions provided in the Day 4 to 5 email. If they do not meet the criteria above and need to remain in isolation or in-room recovery for additional days, they must also send an email to COVIDOps@middlebury.edu to ensure that they have the support and resources they need. For detailed information about the criteria for ending isolation, please see Instructions for Students who Test Positive for COVID-19, Regardless of Vaccination Status.
Similarly, the isolation period for employees who test positive for COVID-19 has also changed from 10 days to five full days, ending on Day 6, if the criteria for employees to end isolation are met. Again, Day 0 is the date someone took the test that had a positive result or when symptoms began–whichever occurs first. If employees are able to return to work on Day 6, they must wear a well-fitted mask at all times when with others inside and when in public through Day 10, even if they have tested negative with antigen tests. They should also take breaks away from others through Day 10 and avoid public places where masking is not feasible. Medical clearance by a healthcare provider is no longer required to return to campus but employees are encouraged to consult with their healthcare provider.
For detailed information about the criteria for returning to campus, please see Instructions for Employees who Test Positive for COVID-19, Regardless of Vaccination Status.
New Required Student Testing Schedule
Required COVID-19 arrival testing for students continues through this Saturday, January 22. Test slots are limited to 1,200 tests due to lab capacity. Any student who cannot get a test slot for Saturday to meet the requirement can sign up for a test on Monday, January 25. Once we are beyond the arrival period, testing will be required once weekly for students for the remainder of Winter Term, except for students who have a testing exemption from Health Services because they have recovered from COVID-19 within the past 90 days. During the weeks of January 24 and January 31, students may take their required test on Monday or Wednesday. Students may sign up for appointments using the student testing link. We will continue to offer some additional appointments for optional testing on both days as capacity allows.
During the last two weeks of Winter Term, on-campus employees who are not experiencing symptoms may sign up for testing once each week on Monday, January 24, and Monday, January 31, between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. using the employee testing link.
Testing for asymptomatic employees working on campus and identified as close contacts will be made available as testing center capacity allows. Employees should contact Human Resources to make arrangements for testing.
Employees who are symptomatic must secure testing through their healthcare provider, the Vermont Department of Health, or a local pharmacy. Individuals with COVID-19 symptoms and a positive antigen test are considered positive for COVID-19. A negative antigen test in an individual with symptoms does not rule out COVID-19, and a PCR test should be done to confirm the negative result.
Changes to Employee Reporting and Contact Tracing
Employees, whether they work on campus or remotely, or their managers should report any positive test results through the Employee COVID-19 Reporting Tool. This new form will allow Human Resources to quickly provide employees with the latest guidance and limit possible transmission of COVID-19 on campus. Employees should then complete the Contact Tracing Form so that Human Resources can notify close contacts.
Employees should also continue to contact their supervisor or manager directly with this information.
New Masking Guidance and Mask Distribution for Students
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Vermont Department of Health (VDH) have issued new guidance that calls for wearing high-quality masks, including the following recommendations:
- Wear N95 or KN95 masks whenever possible as these are the most effective.
- If N95 or KN95 masks are unavailable, wear masks that comply with one of the following recommendations:
- Wear a well-fitting cloth mask or surgical mask with at least two layers of tightly-woven fabric
- OR wear a disposable mask under a cloth one to increase effectiveness.
The CDC has also provided information on how to select, properly wear, clean, and store masks, including how to have a better fit and extra protection by wearing a surgical mask and a cloth mask.
We have updated Middlebury’s mask policy on the Campus Status page and in the Campus Guide.
Students may pick up surgical masks at the testing center starting today. Employees received a separate message about mask distribution from Human Resources on Tuesday.
In-person dining will resume on Monday, January 24, for all students except those in quarantine or isolation, or those completing a 10-day masking requirement after isolation. Those who are within the 10-day recovery period will continue to have grab-and-go or meal delivery.
Student Spectators at Athletic Events
As of Friday, January 21, students will be allowed to attend indoor athletic events as spectators–except for events held in the Squash Center or Virtue Field House, due to capacity limits. We will continue this policy for one-week and then assess whether we are able to extend it, based on compliance with COVID-19 protocols. This includes the use of well-fitted masks by all spectators regardless of vaccination status. If the trial is successful, we will continue the practice of allowing student spectators. We will later assess whether to allow faculty and staff to attend as well. In accordance with NESCAC spectator rules, members of the public are not permitted at indoor athletic events at this time. We will provide updates on the spectator policy as soon as the information is available.
Faculty and staff organizing any other type of event should continue to work with the Department of Event Management to ensure that the appropriate safety measures are in place.
We appreciate your patience and your cooperation with the adjustments we are making each week to support the health of our campus community and to adapt to changing guidance.
Vice President for Student Affairs
Chief Health Officer and College Physician