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In general terms, our assessments will remain focused on U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Vermont Department of Health guidance, which is updated frequently and is readily available to all community members. Specific CDC and American College Health Association guidance for institutions of higher education will also continue to inform our procedures. All colleges and universities are making their own calls based on local conditions and state guidance, and so far, their decisions are varying widely. To ensure the safety of our campus and local community, we will continue to act on the conservative end of the spectrum—and meet or exceed the professional guidelines.
Middlebury College will ask all students returning to campus to self-quarantine at home for 14 days prior to returning to campus. At the end of the 14-day quarantine period, students may return to campus only if they do not have any symptoms of COVID-19 and have had no known exposure to COVID-19. This will reduce their exposure while at home and reduce the risk of their bringing COVID-19 to campus.
We are implementing a robust testing program in partnership with the Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Broad Institute that will allow us to deliver tests for COVID-19 infection. Two rounds of COVID-19 viral tests are being planned for each student, including an anterior nares specimen on day 0 and again on day 7. (See also the Broad Institute’s description of their COVID-19 diagnostic testing.) Any positive tests will result in immediate isolation of the student followed by contact tracing. After two negative tests and a 14-day at-home self-isolation, the likelihood of this student bringing COVID-19 to campus is exceedingly low. This procedure currently exceeds state guidelines.
Students who are not able to do the 14-day quarantine at home before their arrival will be required do so in their dorm rooms on campus.
In addition, students will be required to prescreen for COVID-19 symptoms each day, wear cloth face coverings, practice good hand hygiene, practice physical distancing, and follow all other applicable health guidelines in order to limit the spread of COVID-19.
We are considering a plan for periodic testing throughout the semester.