Our Phased Approach for a Safe and Healthy Return to Campus

The health and safety of our Middlebury community is our priority. The state of Vermont aims to make Vermont the safest place to go to college in the country during this public health emergency by establishing strict safety protocols that all institutions of higher education must follow. This plan describes Middlebury College’s phased approach to opening our campus. This plan ensures compliance with Vermont’s Mandatory Guidance for Residential Campus Learning, and in many cases goes beyond compliance to address the unique needs of our campus community.

Preventing outbreaks and limiting the spread of COVID-19 is essential and requires 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 impacts not only our own health but also the health of those around us. 

We will be monitoring key metrics, including College, regional, and national conditions, as well as state of Vermont guidance to determine whether we can move from one phase to another, and we may need to move back to more restrictions in order to stabilize safely again. All phases below must comply with state of Vermont guidance.

Activity/Service

Campus Quarantine (Phase 1)
Living and working in the safest way by maintaining low density and limited-contact environments, and maximizing outdoor settings.
Stabilizing (Phase 2)
Making incremental changes to allow for moderate density and resuming some forms of daily activities, including indoor activities.
  • The low prevalence of COVID-19 cases on campus so far is a credit to the strong compliance of our students with pre-arrival requirements, physical distancing, wearing face coverings, practicing hand hygiene, and limiting gathering sizes, as well as to our no-visitor policy.

  • Our opening plan was developed in July, before any colleges and universities had opened. Now that campuses across the country have opened, numerous schools have sent students home after only a couple of weeks and moved to all remote classes. Middlebury is committed to completing our fall semester in person. We must proceed with an abundance of caution and always with the health of our campus and wider Middlebury community at the forefront of everything we do.

  • We will be “opening the spigot” slowly for our Phase 2 operations, beginning on Thursday, September 17. This is consistent with the state of Vermont’s successful approach to opening the state’s economy. Vermont continues to lead the nation, with the fewest cases and the lowest positivity rate. As Health Commissioner Mark Levine stated in April 2020: “We are very deliberately taking a very, very gradual and progressive course. Our governor likens it to opening a spigot a small turn by small turn as opposed to turning on the whole faucet.”

  • A gradual transition is required as we adjust to circumstances that were impossible to predict in July, such as late arrival of some off-campus students, and the fact that social gatherings are currently the single largest threat to colleges successfully completing the semester.

  • All students must complete the Phase Two Fall 2020 online course, assigned through SafeColleges, in order to engage in the new Phase 2 activities described below. The course will be available as of Tuesday, September 15. We expect that students will want to move as quickly as possible into Phase 2 activities, and will do the training by Thursday, September 17. 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.

  • The Phase Two Fall 2020 online 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. 

  • Engaging in Phase 2 activities prior to completing the training will be considered a COVID-19 conduct violation.

  • The low number of cases in our community does not mean zero cases. We must continue to remain vigilant and follow all Middlebury and state of Vermont guidelines, including the following:

    • Conduct daily health checks.  

    • Stay home if you are sick or if you were in close contact with someone who is positive for COVID-19. 

    • Wear a face covering. 

    • Maintain physical distancing of at least six feet. 

    • Wash your hands.

    • Socialize in small groups (10 or fewer people) and outdoors as much as possible. 

    • Avoid crowded gatherings. 

    • Follow all College and Vermont quarantine restrictions, as applicable. 

Sustaining (Phase 3)
Increasing activity, travel, and gathering sizes consistent with current state guidance while maintaining individual precautions.

There is no set timeline for Phase 3. We will assess, on a month-to-month basis, College, regional, and national conditions. This will inform our decisions about whether we can relax restrictions.

Individual Responsibilities

Daily Health Check and Hand Hygiene

Phase 1
Always Required
Phase 2
Always Required
Phase 3
Always Required

Face Coverings

Phase 1
Required in all indoor and outdoor locations with the following exceptions:
 
  • When alone in a private space.
  • Students alone, or with a roommate, in dorm room or bedroom at off-campus residence (assuming all occupants receive a second negative COVID-19 test on day seven after arrival).
  • When in a bathroom performing personal grooming.
  • While eating in an appropriately physically distanced location.
  • When exercising outdoors alone.
Phase 2
Same as Phase 1
  • It is now clearer than ever that use of face coverings is among the most important protective measures we can take. The safest option is therefore to maintain the same approach as Phase 1, wearing face coverings on and off campus, indoors and outdoors (see above).
  • With respect to shared spaces within social houses, townhouses, suites, or off-campus residences, students should wear face coverings even in their own residence if those present are not among their small number of close contacts (see Physical Distancing, Phase 2 below, regarding the requirements related to close contacts).
Phase 3
Same as Phase 2, but may adjust restrictions if state requirements change.

Physical Distancing

Phase 1
• Physical distancing of at least six feet is required for the entire campus community.
• The only exception to physical distancing is for staff who must perform essential work tasks approved by a supervisor.
Phase 2
• Physical distancing of at least six feet is required for the entire campus community
• The only exception to physical distancing is for staff who must perform essential work tasks approved by their supervisor.
• Physical distancing and wearing face coverings are critical public health measures that reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19. Exposure risk increases when you are in close contact with another person. A close contact is defined as someone you are within six feet of for more than 15 minutes or someone with whom you have direct bodily contact. 
• All employees must maintain strict physical distancing on campus and follow their department’s exposure control plans. 
• Students must maintain physical distancing of six feet from others and maintain as few close contacts as possible to reduce exposure. 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.
• Students should keep a list of their close contacts each day by using a contact tracing journal. If a student gets sick, this will make it easier for the contact tracer to get in touch with those people so they can help prevent the further spread of COVID-19. 
• All employees should keep track of their close contacts for contact tracing purposes.
Phase 3
Same as Phase 2, but will adjust restrictions, if possible, in accordance with state of Vermont guidelines for approved activities.

Campus Operations

Dining Services

Phase 1
• Limited menu, with same offerings at all dining halls.
• All meals to-go or delivered, no inside seating (students eat in their residential space or outside in groups of 10 or less and with strict physical distancing).
• Grille (limited menu) and MiddXpress available for takeout only.
• No faculty and staff use of dining halls or Grille.
• Delivery locations will be added for lunch and dinner.
Phase 2
• Additional menu options available, with same offerings at all dining halls (students are still assigned to specific dining halls).
• Starting September 28, limited inside seating available to ensure physical distancing and in compliance with state of Vermont guidelines.
• Additional outdoor seating available.
• Food truck is expected to open on September 28.
• Reusable containers are expected to be available on September 28.
• To-go meals available.
• Grille (regular menu) and MiddXpress available for takeout (Grille with limited seating expected on September 28).
• No faculty and staff use of dining halls or Grille.
Phase 3
• Dining operations set up in compliance with current state of Vermont guidelines for seating capacity.
• Dining halls have different options and students can choose location.
• To-go meals available.
• Faculty and staff may have access to Grille takeout.

Campus Services (SFS, ISSS, Helpdesk, HR, etc.)

Phase 1
Services will be provided primarily online/by phone, with rare exceptions; pick-up services only for the library.
Phase 2
A mix of online and in-person services will be provided, by appointment.
Phase 3
Services may be provided in person, consistent with state of Vermont guidance at the time.

Student Affairs and Residential Life

Phase 1
• Professional and student res life staff present on campus; most appointments remote, but in-person response also may occur, as appropriate.
• Day-to-day dean appointments remote; deans on call to respond in person to campus crises.
Phase 2
Increasing proportion of interactions occurring in person; safety and health precautions in effect meeting or exceeding those directed by the state of Vermont and CDC.
Phase 3
Most interactions occurring in person; safety and health precautions in effect meeting or exceeding those directed by the state of Vermont and CDC.

Use of Athletic Facilities

Phase 1
• Outdoor, low-risk, noncontact recreational activities allowed on campus grounds during campus quarantine.
• Indoor athletic facilities (including fitness center, cardio balcony, natatorium, climbing wall, and other field house locations) closed.
• No use of facilities by faculty, staff, or visitors.
• No student use of ancillary facilities (Snow Bowl, TAM). Exception: as of September 10, the Ralph Myhre Golf Course is now open to students during designated hours. Tee times must be scheduled in advance by calling the golf course. All COVID-19-related protocols must be followed.
Phase 2
• Indoor athletic facilities open for limited activity with reduced capacity and in compliance with state of Vermont guidelines.
• No use of facilities by faculty, staff, or visitors.
• Use of ancillary facilities by students is allowed (e.g., golf course, Snow Bowl, TAM). Exception: On Sunday, September 20, students may not use the TAM until after 1 p.m. due to an event that will be held earlier that day.
• Climbing wall closed.
Phase 3
• Same as Phase 2, consistent with state of Vermont guidance at the time.
• No use of facilities by faculty, staff, or visitors.

Building Access

Note: Please read this entire Campus Operations section for a complete description of accessible and restricted areas for students, faculty, and staff.

Phase 1
• Access to campus buildings restricted.
• Students’ access cards will only open the residence hall in which they live and any academic buildings to which they need access.
• Faculty and staff may only access buildings for approved work and scheduled activities (e.g., classes, training).
Phase 2
• Access to campus buildings will be available as services open to in-person activity.
• Students’ access cards will only open the residence hall in which they live and any academic buildings to which they need access for classes or studying, during designated hours. Faculty and staff may only access buildings for approved work and scheduled activities (e.g., classes, training).
Phase 3
Same as Phase 2.

Student Health Services

Phase 1
• Both COVID-19 and non–COVID-19 care will be provided in addition to arrival and targeted dynamic testing.
• Telehealth available 24/7 for medical and mental health, including for students enrolled to study remotely.
Phase 2
Same as Phase 1.
Phase 3
Same as Phase 1.

Student Employment, Volunteer Work, Community Engagement

Phase 1
• Remote employment/activities allowed (whether on or off campus).
• On-campus employment* may start on September 7 if the student has completed arrival quarantine/testing procedures and safety training.
*Not including Residence Life staff
Phase 2
• On-campus employment/activities permitted, in accordance with state of Vermont guidelines.
• Off-campus employment/activity within Addison County is currently being reviewed. This section will be updated once a decision is made.
• In-person work with infants, toddlers, preschoolers, and the K–12 population is not permitted.
Phase 3
• Same as Phase 2.

Visitors*

*Defined as anyone other than employees of the Middlebury campus and students enrolled for on-campus instruction.

Phase 1
• Campus closed to visitors (including all residence buildings).
The following sections of the Trail Around Middlebury (TAM) that cross through the College property will be closed to the public and reserved for student use only:
• The Red Kelly Trail
• The Class of 1997 Trail
• The section of the TAM that runs from College Street through the solar panel array north to Weybridge Street
• The Knoll

• Contractors working on time-sensitive projects may be approved on a case-by-case basis.

Phase 2
• Campus (including all residence buildings) closed to visitors except for approved contracted services and the Ralph Myhre Golf Course (assuming all appropriate state of Vermont guidelines are followed).
• Certain sections of the TAM are closed to the public and reserved for student use only as described in Phase 1, above. These sections may be opened to the public later during Phase 2 if conditions permit.
Phase 3
• Campus (including all residence buildings) closed to visitors except the following:
• Approved contracted services.
• Admissions visitors with restrictions.
• The Ralph Myhre Golf Course
• Other approved activities, as conditions permit.

The above exceptions assume that all appropriate state of Vermont guidelines are followed.

Certain sections of the TAM are closed to the public and reserved for student use only as described in Phase 1, above. As stated above, these sections could be opened to the public later if conditions permit.

Campus Life

Gathering Size

  • Includes all casual/social gatherings, registered parties, and scheduled events.
  • Does not include scheduled classes, which may be held in approved locations with physical distancing and in compliance with state guidelines.

NOTE: All gatherings must comply with the COVID-19 Safety Maximum Occupancy for the space being used; face coverings and physical distancing are required.

Phase 1
• 10-person maximum for casual/social gatherings and only in locations where strict physical distancing is possible.
• No registered parties permitted.
• 25-person maximum for scheduled orientation and training activities.
Phase 2
• 10-person maximum for casual/social gatherings and only in locations where strict physical distancing is possible. This means that students may 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. Six-foot physical distancing and face coverings are required.
• Maximum occupancy in residential spaces including residence hall rooms, suites, and townhouses is according to the “N+1” rule, where N is the number of beds in the space. For example maximum occupancy of a four-person suite (N=4) is five. Due to their large size, Atwater suites are the exception, with maximum occupancy of N+2.
• Gatherings at off-campus residences are not permitted at this time. This means that students living on campus and students living off campus may not visit other off-campus residences. Any violation of this rule, regardless of the student’s enrollment status, will be considered a COVID-19 conduct policy violation. Involved students living on campus will be required to remain on campus, and those living off campus will be required to remain in their residences until the conduct case is resolved. In addition, violations may result in a return to Phase 1, depending on the resulting level of risk and exposure, as well as other health-related conditions on campus and in Vermont.
• Socializing in bars and at parties, especially when alcohol consumption is involved, has resulted in high rates of transmission and closures of colleges and universities. Avoiding these situations increases our chances for a successful in-person fall semester. Small social gatherings of 10 or less, preferably outside, with physical distancing and face coverings continues to be the requirement for the health and safety of our campus and our community.
• Participation in organized indoor gatherings with no more than 50 people is allowed only after being approved by Event Management.
• Participation in organized outdoor gatherings with no more than 75 people is allowed only after being approved in advance by Event Management.
Phase 3
Maximum gathering size will be determined taking into consideration state of Vermont guidance and health conditions on campus at the time.

Meetings/Events

    Phase 1
    • Student events limited to only those that are approved by Event Management (e.g., orientation) and that can meet gathering-size requirements.
    • No invited speakers.
    • Faculty and staff meetings and events held remotely unless approved by Event Management.
    • No non-College events or use of space.
    Phase 2
    Same as Phase 1.
    Phase 3
    Same as Phase 1.

    Club Sports, Intramurals, Varsity Sports

    Phase 1
    • Outdoor, low-risk, noncontact recreational activities allowed on campus grounds consistent with gathering-size restrictions and state of Vermont requirements.
    • Face coverings and physical distancing required.
    Phase 2
    • Initially, the same as Phase 1 as the impact of allowing Addison County travel is assessed.    
    • Guidelines for supervised athletic practices will be determined by the Athletics Department. Varsity athletic practices, unlike impromptu games, are permitted due to approved design, supervision, and enforcement of mitigation measures by on-site coaches.
    • Club activities, intramurals, and pickup games of soccer, basketball, and similar activities do not meet physical distancing requirements and are not allowed initially in Phase 2.
    • Students do have options of activities that meet the physical distancing, gathering size, and face covering requirements. Creativity is encouraged while maintaining all safety recommendations.
    • Outside activity is preferred; however, limited, low-risk indoor activity is allowed with face coverings and appropriate physical distancing.
    Phase 3
    • Same as Phase 2.
    • Low-contact or short-duration incidental contact may be allowed depending on local health conditions and in compliance with state of Vermont guidelines.

    Student Activities

    Phase 1
    Most programming and staff availability remote, some in-person; student org events very limited in size and scope; outdoor programming, including Middlebury Outdoor Programs, Middlebury Mountain Club, and orientation trips, not in operation.
    Phase 2
    • Student org activities and programs permitted when consistent with group size, physical distancing, and face covering requirements; limited phased restart of outdoor programming consistent with all applicable state of Vermont and CDC guidance.
    • Limited student organization travel within Addison County is permitted with prior approval from the Student Activities Office (“SAO”). There is no overnight travel or travel outside of Addison County unless approved by the SAO. Student Organizations can visit go/presence to find the Student Organization Off-Campus Travel Form.
    Phase 3
    Same as Phase 2.

    Close Contact or Higher-Risk Activities

    (e.g., dancing, singing, wind and brass instruments, high-contact sports)

    Phase 1
    • Only no-contact activities are allowed. These activities will only be permitted if allowed by the state of Vermont’s guidelines.
    • No high-risk activities allowed.
    • All activities require physical distancing and face coverings.
    Phase 2
    • High-risk activities will be very limited and must be approved through an academic program, athletic program, Student Activities Office, etc.—and must follow state of Vermont guidelines.
    • High-risk activities require a risk assessment and safety plan to be developed.
    • Higher-risk activities should be performed outdoors whenever possible or only in spaces approved through risk assessment with face coverings.
    • The guidelines for artistic performances and rehearsals will be determined by the College’s arts faculty in collaboration with our health and safety officials.
    Phase 3
    Same as Phase 2, with restrictions informed by risk assessment, local health conditions, and compliance with state of Vermont guidelines.

    Travel and Recreation

    Sponsored Institutional Travel (Employees and Students)

    Phase 1
    No travel is permitted.
    Phase 2
    • Limited travel within Addison County only for academic purposes, if approved by department vice president (for employees).
    • If public health conditions on campus and beyond warrant, it may be possible to allow exceptions to this restriction on a case-by-case basis; e.g., grant-supported travel.
    Phase 3
    Same as Phase 2.

    Student Recreation and Personal Travel

    Phase 1
    • On the Middlebury campus only (use of the Trail Around Middlebury, or TAM, is limited to the section on College property—from South Street Extension to Weybridge Street—including the College cross-country trail, the Class of ’97 trail, and the trail to the Knoll; no traveling to Snow Bowl).
    • Registered vehicles may be parked on campus; use limited to arrival travel or evacuation.
    • Students living off campus who are enrolled for in-person classes may come to and from campus in their vehicles.
    Phase 2
    • Only students who have (a) completed the Phase 2 training; (b) successfully completed Day 0 and Day 7 testing and are not positive for COVID-19 (or who have successfully complied with Vermont’s travel and quarantine guidelines, as applicable); (c) are not experiencing symptoms of COVID-19; and (d) who have not been in close contact with anyone who has tested positive for COVID-19 may travel within Addison County.
    • Travel to or between off-campus residences is not permitted at this time. This means that students living on campus and students living off campus may not travel to any other off-campus residence(s). Any violation of this rule, regardless of the student’s enrollment status, will be considered a COVID-19 conduct policy violation. Involved students living on campus will be required to remain on campus, and those living off campus will be required to remain in their residences until the conduct case is resolved. In addition, violations may result in a return to Phase 1, depending on the resulting level of risk and exposure, as well as other health-related conditions on campus and in Vermont.
    • Students may patronize local restaurants, shops, and businesses in Addison County, provided they follow both Vermont and College guidelines and the restrictions imposed by the businesses.
    • Students may 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 on Sunday, September 20, before 1 p.m. due to a community race.
    • No overnight or outside-of-Addison-County travel is permitted without prior approval by a dean (exceptions are for medical purposes). Students who are approved to leave campus must comply with all quarantine and health and safety requirements upon their return.
    • Physical distancing, face coverings, and hand hygiene required per the College’s instructions.
    • Socializing in bars and at parties, especially when alcohol consumption is involved, has resulted in high rates of transmission and closures of colleges and universities. Avoiding these situations increases our chances for a successful in-person fall semester. Small social gatherings of 10 or less, preferably outside, with physical distancing and face coverings continues to be the requirement for the health and safety of our campus and our community. Gatherings at off-campus residences are not permitted at this time. Only students living in a particular residence are permitted in that residence.
    • Personal vehicles are permitted to transport yourself and other Middlebury students within Addison County only following these requirements:
     
    • Trips with multiple passengers should be less than 15 minutes whenever possible and all vehicle occupants must wear face coverings.
    • You should know all passengers in the vehicle whenever possible.
    • With more than one person in the car, windows must be down at least two inches for air flow, though as much as possible is recommended.
    • Reduce capacity in vehicles whenever possible, even for short trips. No direct contact between passengers and do not exceed the number of seat belts.
    • Longer trips without a face covering are permissible IF the driver is the only person in the car.

    ACTR meets Middlebury College requirements and can be used by students for local transportation. Read about ACTR’s response to COVID here.
    • College vehicle rentals may be used for limited travel for academic purposes within Addison County only, if approved by department vice president.

    Phase 3
    • No travel outside Vermont; no overnight travel without prior approval by dean.
    • Physical distancing, face coverings, and hand hygiene required per the College’s instructions.

    Faculty and Staff Personal Travel

    Phase 1
    Must follow current VT ACCD requirements for cross-state travel.
    Phase 2
    Same as Phase 1.
    Phase 3
    Same as Phase 1.

    Transportation (MiddRides and College vehicle rentals)

    Phase 1
    • No MiddRides services provided; DPS provides emergency transport only.
    • No use of College vehicle rentals.
    Phase 2
    • No MiddRides services provided. DPS provides emergency transport only.
    • College vehicle rentals may be used for limited travel for academic purposes within Addison County only, if approved by department vice president.
    Phase 3
    • Same as Phase 2.
    • If public health conditions on campus and beyond warrant, it may be possible to allow exceptions to this restriction on a case-by-case basis; e.g., grant-supported travel (assuming compliance with state of Vermont guidance).

    Tips for Reducing Risk of Getting COVID-19

    Increased risk if masks not worn, indoor space, crowded place. Decreased risk if masks worn, outdoor space, 6 feet between people.
    Activities are safer if:
    • You can maintain at least 6 feet of space between you and others. COVID-19 spreads easier between people who are within 6 feet of each other.
    • They are held in outdoor spaces. Indoor spaces with less ventilation where it might be harder to keep people apart are more risky.
    • People are wearing masks. Interacting without wearing masks also increases your risk. (Credit: CDC )