Middlebury welcomed students back to campus in fall 2020 for in-person living and learning, with special measures in place to prevent and minimize the spread of COVID-19. Students, faculty, and staff committed to protecting themselves and one another. The campus community was patient and flexible while learning how to live, work, and study safely with the virus. When students return to campus for the spring semester, it is expected that conditions within Vermont and Addison County will be different, and in some ways more challenging than in the fall. Prevalence of the virus has increased; more infectious strains are emerging; and at the same time “pandemic fatigue” has set in. COVID-19 has altered daily routines in unimaginable ways, and the sustained daily effort to follow the precautions that protect ourselves and others can be exhausting.
The experiences of colleges, K–12 schools, and workplaces in Vermont and across the country will inform how to protect our community during the spring semester. Changing conditions and requirements in Vermont will again require patience, flexibility, and vigilance, but with fewer unknowns. The basic protective health measures—wearing face coverings, maintaining physical distance from others, and washing hands—are proven to reduce transmission of the virus on and off campus.
Keeping our campus and our community safe and healthy will require persistence, hard work, and careful adherence to necessary public health measures, along with dedication and commitment to one another.
This spring, students, faculty, and staff will protect themselves and others by doing the following:
- Staying informed about the latest campus health conditions and requirements,
- Committing to the protective health behaviors that allow for living, learning, and working together while protecting others, and
- Avoiding activities and environments that have been proven to increase transmission of the virus.
This website informs the campus community about health and safety requirements, policy changes, and adjustments to academics and campus life. Middlebury’s practices meet, and in many cases exceed, the requirements in Vermont’s Mandatory Guidance for College and University Campus Learning.
Risks and Individual Choices
Even with mitigation measures, it is 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 the spring semester. It is possible that students or employees may become ill and spread the virus to others on campus, to their family members or friends outside of Middlebury, or to members of the broader Addison County community.
In making a decision on whether or not to return to Middlebury this spring, each student should think carefully about their personal health, their tolerance for risk, and whether they will be able to comply with Middlebury’s health and safety requirements. Students are encouraged to consult with their physicians, families, and others important to them about participation in an in-person spring 2021 semester. For students unable or unwilling to accept the risk of COVID-19, or to comply with health and safety requirements, studying remotely or taking a semester off may be the best option.
Middlebury will continue to monitor local and regional health conditions, including local health system capacity, cases in the broader community, and other factors. If conditions on campus or in our community change, shifting to room quarantine or sending students home to complete their classes remotely could become necessary. In the event of a high number of cases or unexplained clusters of cases, Middlebury will rely on guidance from the Vermont Department of Health and our Porter Medical Center partners to determine how best to proceed.
Maintaining Our Inclusive Community
Middlebury is committed to maintaining an educational working and living environment that is free of all forms of discrimination, harassment, and sexual misconduct. For every member of the community to thrive—especially as we continue to navigate life and College operations during a global pandemic—we must seek to foster mutual respect, support, and inclusion.
During this public health event, when there are many unknowns, taking care of each other is just as important as taking care of ourselves. Making assumptions about or engaging in negative treatment of others based on perceived symptoms, medical conditions or abilities, national origin, racial and ethnic characteristics, or any other protected status hurts our community. Every person’s care, compassion, and empathy for each other makes a positive difference.
Acts of discrimination and harassment run counter to Middlebury’s values and policies. Please know that the Office of Institutional Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion remains open and available to the entire community.
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 regularly for updates.