Contact tracing is a key public health strategy for preventing further spread of COVID-19. Contact tracing begins when a person who has tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 or been diagnosed with COVID-19 is asked to provide information about other people they have been in close contact with during the time when they may have been infectious and able to transmit the virus.
If a student or employee tests positive for COVID-19, contact tracing and isolation procedures will be activated. Individuals who test positive for COVID-19 are encouraged to protect their privacy and carefully consider to whom they disclose this information. If a student tests positive via a test not administered through the College Health Services, they must notify Health Services staff so that they can work with the Vermont Department of Health to provide confidential contact tracing. (As stated in COVID-19 Testing at Middlebury, we strongly advise against testing outside of Health Services.) The Vermont Department of Health or a Middlebury staff member will reach out confidentially to employees or students who have been identified as having had close contact with the person who had COVID-19 and will provide them with information and resources to quarantine. To protect privacy, contacts are informed only that they may have been exposed to someone with the infection. They are not told the identity of the person.
Middlebury staff, including counselors, can provide confidential support to students in quarantine and isolation. Students may choose to share this information with individuals who can support them during their isolation period and subsequent recovery. Students are also free to authorize Middlebury to share such information on their behalf for public health and student support purposes.
In order to ensure full compliance with contact tracing, information gathered in the contact tracing process for students is confidential and not shared with the Office of Community Standards or otherwise used in conduct processes.
See also the Vermont Department of Health information on Close Contacts & Contact Tracing and a fact sheet on what to do if you’re a close contact.
Contacts of Contacts
Sometimes, individuals who know a person with COVID-19 may wonder if they are at risk for developing the illness, even if Health Services or the Department of Health does not contact them. Examples include friends of roommates of the infected person or coworkers of an individual who has a family member at home diagnosed with COVID-19. In most cases these people are considered a contact of a contact and are not considered to be at risk for developing illness. Contacts of contacts are therefore not required to quarantine unless they are in direct contact with someone who tests positive. For further information about quarantine requirements for close contacts see Isolation and Quarantine.
Isolation and Quarantine
Isolation is required for people who, regardless of vaccination status, test positive for COVID-19 or are diagnosed with COVID-19 and need to be separated from others to avoid infecting them.
Students who test positive may be temporarily moved to a designated residential space (called isolation housing) to reduce the chance of infecting others. Health Services will check in regularly via Zoom, telephone, secure messaging, or in person, depending on the individual situation. Mental health support is always available for students through Counseling Services and 24/7 through MiddTelehealth. Student Life staff will be available to support students as well. All meals will be delivered throughout the isolation period. No visitors will be permitted inside or directly outside of isolation housing.
During isolation, individuals living on campus (including Bread Loaf and other locations where housing is provided by the College) must remain in their assigned isolation room and may not leave except to use the bathroom or pick up a meal from a designated delivery point In the building. They must wear well-fitted face coverings when leaving their rooms to pick up a meal or to use the bathroom. Students in isolation should contact their faculty members to make academic arrangements until released to attend classes. Students living off campus must follow the same protocols and isolate in their residences.
Students in isolation will be required to submit daily health checks and will be supported by Health Services, Counseling Services, and Residential Life staff.
For individuals who do not develop symptoms, isolation will normally last 10 days. However, some individuals may require additional time in isolation, depending on the course of their symptoms. Individuals must remain in isolation housing until medically cleared by Health Services (students) or their healthcare provider (employees). Under no circumstances will individuals be allowed to leave isolation housing until the following have occurred:
- 10 days have passed since their COVID-19 symptoms first appeared (or since they had a positive viral test for COVID-19 and have had no symptoms), and
- 24 hours have passed with no fever without the use of fever-reducing medications, and
- Other symptoms of COVID-19 are improving.
Please see the CDC’s guidance on When You Can Be around Others after You Had or Likely Had COVID-19.
Employees not living on campus need to isolate at home and may not return to work until they have met the Vermont Department of Health guidelines for recovery and have final clearance from Human Resources staff. See also the CDC’s guidance above.
Quarantine is a way for individuals who may have been exposed to COVID-19 through close contact with an infected individual to limit their contact with others while it is determined whether they have COVID-19.
Students or employees identified through contact tracing who need to quarantine will be contacted by Health Services or the Vermont Department of Health, as applicable. College staff will provide specific instructions on where the individual will complete the quarantine period (either in their current room or a residential space designated for quarantine).
Individuals with no symptoms who have been fully vaccinated with an FDA-approved or an EUA vaccine (Pfizer, Moderna, or Johnson & Johnson) or a World Health Organization–approved vaccine must be tested three to five days following the close contact exposure and wear a well-fitting face covering in public indoor settings for 14 days after exposure. They may not be required to quarantine, but they must monitor for COVID-19 symptoms for 14 days.
Unvaccinated individuals will remain in quarantine for 14 days from the date of exposure or until they receive a negative Day 7 test, if they have had no symptoms. If symptoms develop, the quarantined individual must be evaluated for active COVID-19 infection and must continue to follow Vermont Department of Health guidelines.
Symptomatic vaccinated or unvaccinated individuals will need to be tested right away. Students with symptoms must remain in their room and contact Health Services for further testing and quarantine instructions. Employees with symptoms must stay home and contact their health provider.
During quarantine, individuals living on campus must remain in their assigned quarantine room and may not leave except to use the bathroom or pick up a meal from the dining hall. They must wear well-fitted face coverings when leaving their rooms to pick up a meal or to use the bathroom. Students in quarantine should contact their faculty members to make academic arrangements until released to attend classes. Students in quarantine will be required to submit daily health checks and will be supported by Health Services, Counseling Services, and Residential Life staff.
Students who wish to complete exposure-related quarantine or isolation away from Middlebury rather than remain in isolation on campus may be permitted to do so depending on the circumstances. If state requirements allow, students must obtain permission from Health Services after submitting a plan for safe travel and isolation. Individuals who wish to return to campus after isolation may be subject to additional testing and/or quarantine requirements before and upon return. Individuals must understand that, depending on the timing of their request and other circumstances, they may not be able to return to campus.