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Wednesday, Jan 19, 2022

BREAKING: College reports another 36 cases, moving to remote instruction for remainder of semester

The new positives bring the total number of reported active cases to 52, and indoor events are canceled or postponed.

This is a developing story. It will be updated as The Campus learns new information or as the Covid-19 situation on campus changes.

Update — Friday, Dec. 10

Two new cases — an employee and a student — have been added to the college’s dashboard, bringing the total number of reported active cases to 52. A Middlebury Updates email from administrators said contact tracing was in progress.

“Given the number of recent cases and the fact that members of our community are traveling, communication with close contacts may take longer than usual,” the administrators wrote.

Students can sign up for optional testing tomorrow from noon to 3 p.m. The email also shared a new webpage with information for those who are exposed, symptomatic or have received a positive test result.

“We hope you have a restful and restorative break, and we look forward to being together again on campus in January,” administrators said at the end of the email.

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The college is moving classes online and transitioning to grab-and-go meals after 34 new cases were reported on campus, bringing the total number of active cases to 50, administrators said in an email to students this evening.

Athletic competitions and other in-person events are canceled or postponed, administrators wrote. Informal indoor gatherings are restricted to six people. These new restrictions begin Friday at 5 a.m. and will remain in effect for the remainder of the semester.

Provost Jeff Cason and Dean of Faculty Sujata Moorti notified faculty in a 6:15 p.m. email that they would need to move tomorrow’s classes and next week’s exams online. Students were told to depart from campus as early as possible instead of waiting until after they take their finals.

The college is also sunsetting indoor dining beginning on Friday morning, with plans to offer grab-and-go meals instead.

The announcement about the new restrictions arrived at the end of Midd-Kid Night and Midd Night Strolls, when many students were in town to take advantage of holiday deals.

The college’s Covid-19 Reporting Dashboard was updated around 2 p.m. today with 10 new positives, bringing the total number of reported active cases on campus at that time to 22, their highest point since the start of the pandemic; this record was previously set yesterday after the college reported 10 new student cases.

The additional cases reported in the administrators’ email seem to have come in after the dashboard was updated.

The college is seeing cases in clusters, and most of those who have tested positive are fully vaccinated, Associate Vice President for Public Affairs Julia Ferrante said in an email to The Campus this afternoon.

The college has not required Covid-19 testing for all students throughout this semester — though unvaccinated students and in-season varsity athletes on teams that travel are required to test.

The recent email outlined opportunities for testing, and included a link to bookings for optional asymptomatic testing on Friday and optional departure testing on Dec. 13–16. Previously, the college had offered asymptomatic testing on Mondays, with more optional testing dates clustered around Thanksgiving break. This week, they offered additional asymptomatic testing on Wednesday.

The announcement also clarifies that, “Regional travel for students in isolation or quarantine may be possible, but will need to be approved by Health Services to ensure that public safety procedures are understood and followed.”

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The email from administrators followed an earlier message from the Student Government Association (SGA) announcing that the free movie screenings for students at the local theater, part of the Midd-Kid Night events in town, were postponed. The email also urged students not to go to “Bar Night,” a Thursday-night tradition at Two Brothers Tavern on Main Street.

“Given the COVID-19 prevalence on campus, we ask that students engage with the town and peers in a safe and respectful manner. Wear your masks and social distance as deemed appropriate,” SGA President Roni Lezama said in the email.




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