Introduction

As we plan for a return to residential liberal arts education on our Vermont campus this fall, the health and safety of the Middlebury community is our paramount concern. Until a vaccine or curative treatment is developed, there is no single strategy that will stop the pandemic or make it possible to return to prepandemic life at Middlebury. However, using multiple layers of protection does make it possible to reduce the spread of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

This website describes Middlebury College’s phased approach to opening our campus for staff, students, and faculty, and the multilayered protective protocols we will operate under for fall 2020, and possibly for the entire 2020–21 academic year. The details will inform our campus community about health and safety requirements, policy changes, adjustments to academics and campus life, and updates to available services required for safe use of our campus. More detailed information and/or policies for students and employees may be found here. Middlebury’s practices meet, and in many cases exceed, the requirements in Vermont’s Mandatory Guidance for College and University Campus Learning. As scientific understanding of the virus that causes COVID-19 and effective preventive measures continue to evolve, new guidance and requirements from public health experts may be established, and this information will be updated accordingly.

This information is organized in four major parts. Sections 1 and 4 are applicable for all students, faculty, and staff:

Section 1: Your Health on Campus
Section 2: Returning Students to Campus
Section 3: Returning Faculty and Staff to Campus
Section 4: Keeping Our Shared Campus Healthy

The information in this guide is subject to change depending on health conditions and state of Vermont guidance. Students, staff and faculty should consult this website for updates.

Carefully Returning Students, Faculty, and Staff to Campus

Our fall 2020 planning aims to structure our academic work and other campus operations to support our students’ vibrant residential liberal arts and sciences education within a framework of prevention and containment practices that reflect scientific evidence and public health guidance, and honor our commitment to inclusivity. Preventing outbreaks and limiting the spread of COVID-19 are essential and require changes to how we live, study, and work together on campus. The strategy for a successful campus reopening is multilayered, with many control strategies combined simultaneously to limit the transmission of COVID-19. Each of our individual behaviors directly affects not only our own health but also the health of those around us.

We have designed a phased approach for opening the Middlebury, Vermont, campus this fall. As faculty, staff, and students arrive back to campus, there are clear expectations and guidelines for how we live, study, and work together in each phase. Deciding to advance from one phase to another will take into consideration state, regional, and local health conditions, conditions on campus, and state of Vermont guidelines. If local health conditions or Vermont guidelines require us to move back to a more restrictive phase, we will be prepared to do so. More details for campus operations and activities are described in Appendix A.

Phases

Prearrival Quarantine for Students

All students returning to campus are required to self-quarantine at home for 14 days before traveling to campus. Students unable to complete a 14-day home quarantine will need to complete a quarantine in their dorm or off-campus residence until a second negative test on day seven after their arrival. As coronavirus cases surge in parts of the country this summer, the prearrival quarantine will reduce the risk of students bringing the coronavirus to Vermont and Middlebury and will give us the best possible opportunity to start the semester safely.

Students cannot come to campus if they have any COVID-19 symptoms as defined by the CDC, or if they have been in close contact with someone who is positive for COVID-19, or if they have tested positive for COVID-19 within the last 14 days. The CDC defines “close contact” in these circumstances as “anyone who was within 6 feet of an infected person for at least 15 minutes starting from 48 hours before the person began feeling sick until the time the patient was isolated.”

Regardless of the mode of travel to campus, students must follow health and safety precautions to reduce their risk of exposure during travel. These precautions include limiting stops to only those that are necessary, physical distancing from others whenever possible, always wearing a face covering, and using proper hand hygiene.

Campus Quarantine (Phase One)

Phase One begins when the first group of students arrives on campus on August 18. Students will arrive in three groups, on August 18, August 26, and August 28. Phase One is the same for all students who have completed a 14-day prearrival quarantine, regardless of their mode of transportation to campus. All students are expected to travel as directly to campus as is feasible and exercise every reasonable precaution (use of face coverings, hand hygiene, as much physical distancing as possible, etc.) en route. Upon arrival, students will be tested and then enter a room quarantine until the first negative test, followed by a campus quarantine that allows the community to live and work in the safest way possible by maintaining very low-density, limited-contact environments, and maximizing outdoor settings. The strictest restrictions must be in place during this time, with students required to remain on campus, have small gathering sizes, and maintain strict physical distancing to reduce the risk of transmission to our community.

The entire campus community is expected to remain in Phase One for several weeks while all students arrive, complete two rounds of COVID-19 testing, and begin classes. During Phase One it is critical that all health and safety measures are followed and that restrictions are adhered to in order to minimize the risk of exposure. By acting responsibly as individuals and working together, we can start the semester with a healthy campus.

Students living in off-campus housing who are enrolled to take in-person classes will be required to participate in the same two rounds of testing, remain in quarantine either in their residences or on campus, travel only to and from their residences to campus, comply with the same health and safety protocols as on-campus residents, and be subject to the same conduct policies and processes as students living on campus.

Stabilizing (Phase Two)

If health conditions and state of Vermont guidance allow, the campus will enter Phase Two, which makes incremental changes to allow for moderate density and resuming forms of daily activities, including indoor activities, and local travel. The change to restrictions and expected guidelines that would be followed in Phase Two are described in Appendix A.

Sustaining (Phase Three)

Phase Three increases core activities, allows for travel within Vermont, and allows increased gathering sizes while maintaining individual precautions. When we are ready to move into Phase Three, the current state guidance will be evaluated to determine what activities may be allowed. Expectations will be clearly defined and communicated to our community prior to moving into this third phase.

See Appendix A.

We will be monitoring key metrics, taking into consideration state, regional, and local health conditions to determine moving from one phase to another. We will use that data to inform the decision of the Senior Leadership Group (SLG) as to whether we can, as a campus community, advance from one phase to the next. If health conditions require us to move back to a more restrictive phase, we will be prepared to do so to ensure the health and safety of our community. All decisions will comply with state of Vermont guidance.

Students Residing Off Campus Who Are Enrolled to Take In-Person Classes

Students living in off-campus housing who are enrolled to take in-person classes at Middlebury are subject to the same expectations and policies as those living on campus, as set forth in all applicable COVID-19–related health and safety policies, including but not limited to arrival testing, periodic testing throughout the semester, pre- and post-arrival quarantine and isolation processes, physical distancing, face coverings, contact tracing protocols (including maintaining a contact journal), travel, visitors, hygiene protocols, gathering sizes, and compliance with the Student Health Pledge. They are expected to abide by all state and local physical distancing and infection control measures and will be held accountable for doing so in the same ways as students living on campus, with the exception of removal from campus housing. In place of removal from housing, students living off-campus who violate expectations will receive a No Trespass Notice and be removed from campus, which could adversely impact in-person learning. Additional sanctions may be issued in accordance with Middlebury’s General Disciplinary Processes. See the COVID-19–Related Conduct Policy and Disciplinary Process. All enrolled students are subject to Middlebury’s Handbook policies.


Students Engaged in Remote Learning Only or on a Leave of Absence

Students living off campus in Vermont and enrolled as fully remote will be subject to Middlebury’s Handbook and are required to follow all Vermont Department of Health and State of Vermont COVID-related requirements. Violations of Middlebury’s Handbook policies or noncompliance with the state of Vermont or local requirements will result in disciplinary action in accordance with Middlebury’s General Disciplinary Processes.

For students living in Vermont who are on leave, disruptions to the community or flagrant disregard for safety expectations and Vermont Department of Health and state of Vermont health requirements will result in disciplinary action and will be addressed prior to any future return to campus in accordance with Middlebury’s Student Handbook.

Nothing in this section or this guide is intended to alter or amend the Scope of Oversight provision in the Middlebury Student Handbook, which includes the following policy statement: “All students will be held accountable for policy violations that take place between the time they first arrive on campus to begin their Middlebury program and their graduation or official program completion, or Middlebury’s confirmation of their resignation or expulsion. Conduct that takes place on or near Middlebury premises or property; occurs at or in connection with a Middlebury-related event; or occurs off campus but may represent a threat to the safety of the Middlebury community or its members, the pursuit of its objectives, and/or the educational environment of others, may be subject to Middlebury’s disciplinary process.”

All students living in Vermont, regardless of whether they are studying remotely or on leave, will be required to provide their address to the College. Failure to do so will result in disciplinary action.

All enrolled students, regardless of where they live or whether they are enrolled in remote classes or in-person classes, are subject to Middlebury’s Handbook policies.

Individual Choices

Even with these mitigation measures and everyone’s compliance with the guidance provided in this document, it is unfortunately not possible to eliminate the risk of COVID-19 infection on campus. It is likely that there will be cases of COVID-19 on campus during 2020–21. It is possible that students or employees may become ill and spread the disease to other people with whom they have had close contact, including family members, members of the broader Middlebury community, and others. Individuals will need to carefully consider their personal situations and make choices that are right for them.