Dear Middlebury Community,
We write today to provide instructions as we prepare to transition to Phase 2 of reopening the Vermont campus later this week.
The information below is detailed; there is a lot of it; and it is essential to the well-being of our entire community that you read it thoroughly and understand it. Thank you.
Requirements for Proceeding to Phase 2
We have a low prevalence of COVID-19 on our campus at this time, so we will begin the transition to Phase 2 on Thursday, September 17. To begin, all students must complete a Phase 2 Fall 2020 course. The training is shorter and more focused than our previous training and will be assigned through SafeColleges on Wednesday. This training must be completed before engaging in the activities described below, and in all cases must be completed no later than Wednesday, September 23.
We expect that many students will want to move as quickly as possible into Phase 2 activities and will complete the training by this Thursday.
Engaging in Phase 2 activities prior to completing the training will be considered a COVID-19 conduct violation.
The course is
- Mandatory for all in-person learners living on campus and approved to live off-campus.
- Mandatory for students who are living in Vermont and are either on leave or enrolled as remote learners.
- Recommended for all other remote learners and students on leave.
In addition to the mandatory online course, students living in Vermont on leave or enrolled as remote learners must have completed all other requirements identified by the dean of students including full compliance with Vermont and Middlebury College guidelines for arrival quarantine. We will be in touch with these students directly with reminders about requirements.
We cannot say this strongly enough: we are in a position to proceed to Phase 2 because of how attentive and conscientious our students have been in complying with the health and safety mandates of Phase 1. We thank you for all you have done to get to this point.
We said from the start that this would be a semester like no other—and that is still the reality as we progress into Phase 2. It is imperative that we continue the essential practices of physical distancing, wearing face coverings, practicing hand hygiene, limiting gathering sizes, staying in your room or off-campus residence if you are sick, completing your daily health questionnaire on the PolicyPath mobile app, and observing our no-visitor policy. In fact, it is even more important than ever to maintain this vigilance.
“Slowly Opening the Spigot”
Since we began living with the pandemic, the College has maintained health and safety guidelines more stringent than the state of Vermont’s. We have also modeled many aspects of our phased reopening on Governor Phil Scott’s successful statewide approach to “slowly opening the spigot,” rather than reopening all at once.
We continue to monitor public health conditions and compliance on our campus and in the state, as well as what is happening at other colleges and universities throughout the United States. Most outbreaks on other campuses originated from the interactions between students living on campus and those living off campus, usually at large gatherings where alcohol and other substances were consumed and health and safety protocols were relaxed. We recognize the importance of social interaction, recreation, and exercise on and off campus for physical and mental health. We know that a big part of the Middlebury College experience is being part of the wider community, patronizing local businesses, and taking advantage of the many opportunities for hiking and bicycling in Addison County.
As we move into this new stage, it is essential that we all continue to respect others and consider the health and safety of the entire community. We know from the national landscape that this is the phase where the hard work of a community to keep itself and its neighbors healthy is most likely to come undone. Let’s do this differently.
Off-Campus Student Interactions
As of today, nearly all students have completed their Day 0 and Day 7 testing. There are still a few students who, because of circumstances beyond their control, received permission to arrive late to the College and who need to complete these requirements. We also have some students living in the area who are studying remotely off campus or who are taking a leave of absence, including some who have come from areas with a high prevalence of COVID-19. These students are subject to Vermont regulations, including the 14-day quarantine upon arrival or a seven-day quarantine followed by a negative COVID-19 test. For this reason, as we move into Phase 2, we must continue some measures of separation between students who have completed their arrival quarantine and testing requirements and those who have not.
At this time, no students, regardless of their enrollment status, are allowed to visit students in any off-campus residences.
Students who are enrolled to study on campus who have completed Day 0 and Day 7 testing with negative results—and those who are not studying on campus who have successfully completed Vermont’s quarantine requirements—may begin Phase 2 activities when they have completed the Phase 2 training.
As a reminder, students who are enrolled as fully remote learners or who are on a leave of absence are considered visitors and are not permitted on campus.
Phase 2: What Is Allowed
A full accounting of the Phase 2 requirements will be published to the website later this week. For now, here is an outline of activities in which students may participate in Addison County. All activities must be done with face coverings and physical distancing (except when exercising alone outdoors).
As of Thursday, students who have completed the Phase 2 training may do the following:
- Patronize local restaurants, shops, and businesses in Addison County, provided they follow both Vermont and College guidelines and the restrictions imposed by the businesses.
- Participate in outdoor recreational activities in Addison County where state and College guidelines must be followed—including walking, jogging, hiking, bicycling, and golfing (with scheduled tee times at the Ralph Myhre Golf Course, at no charge). Recreational indoor and outdoor activities are limited to 10 people at this time. Note: Students will not be permitted to use the TAM this Sunday, September 20, before 1 p.m. due to a community race.
- Gather in groups of no more than 10 people, including residents of residential spaces, or to the maximum posted capacity of the space (whichever is fewer). This applies to all gatherings—indoors or outdoors, on or off campus.
- Participate in organized indoor gatherings with no more than 50 people, only after being approved in advance by Event Management.
- Participate in organized outdoor activities with no more than 75 people, only after being approved in advance by Event Management.
Guidelines for supervised athletic practices will be determined by the Athletics Department. These practices, unlike impromptu games, are planned and supervised, with mitigation measures enforced by on-site coaching staff. The same goes for artistic performances, where guidelines will be determined by our arts faculty in collaboration with our health and safety officials.
We will soon expand outdoor dining spaces and menu items on campus, add new patio tables and Adirondack chairs (this week), and provide more food truck options within the next few weeks. We anticipate offering limited indoor seating for meals by September 28. We will share more details about special dining events throughout the semester.
Physical Distancing and Limiting Close Contacts
Thanks to your hard work, we are privileged to be in a position to move forward into Phase 2.
Again, wearing face coverings and keeping proper physical distance are critical public health measures that reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19. We cannot stress this enough: The risk of exposure to this virus increases when you are in close contact with another person. “Close contact” is defined as someone you were within six feet of for more than 15 minutes or someone with whom you had direct bodily contact. At this time, we continue to require that students in shared spaces, including private lounges, social houses, townhouses, or suites, wear face coverings and maintain physical distance from one another.
After completing Phase 2 training, students may make choices about who their close contacts will be. But they may not have more than four people as close contacts.
We recommend that all members of the College community maintain a list of close contacts, including any person with whom they have interacted at a distance closer than six feet for at least 15 minutes, with or without a face covering, or anyone with whom they have had bodily contact. Contact lists will be of great assistance in the event that a positive COVID-19 case is identified that requires contact tracing. More information about close contacts and safe behaviors will be included in the SafeColleges training program.
Also in the SafeColleges training program, we will offer an opportunity for students to write in questions, which will be shared with the Student Government Association. We also will be holding open office hours for drop-ins for additional questions about Phase 2.
Thank you for your continued commitment as we navigate the challenges of this pandemic. None of this is simple or easy, but our greatest assets are one another and our common concern for one another’s health and well-being. Your vigilance and care for one another has gotten us to this place, and we are grateful to be in this together with all of you.
Sincerely, and most appreciatively,
Director of Health Services and College Physician
Dean of Students