When Covid-19 began to spread in early 2020, Middlebury’s Crisis Management Team was the first to respond at the college. The team, a core group of college administrators, gathered to consider their options for sending students and faculty home, closing campus grounds and moving to an online teaching platform. As the pandemic continued to unfold, it was all hands on deck as faculty, staff and students worked together to address the novel situation.
In the two years since Middlebury closed its campus, the college established its own Covid-19 response team to manage safety guidelines, testing strategies and positive Covid-19 cases. Since its inception, the Covid-19 response team has shifted its structure and responsibilities as the pandemic has evolved. Most recently, the team has begun rotating work every two weeks to alleviate some stress, although some staff members continue their work every week if they have the capacity.
“In January 2022, we adjusted our staffing model to support Covid-19 to a two-week team approach in an effort to centralize our efforts and reduce burnout for many of our staff, many of whom have been managing Covid-19-related support for the past two years,” Vice President for Human Resources Caitlin Goss wrote in an email to The Campus.
Fifteen representatives from Health Services, Custodial Services, Student Life, Environmental Health and Safety and Communications serve on the interdepartmental team, though the college continues to adjust numbers every two weeks as needed. Staff members are trained for various responsibilities, including checking students in for testing, administering tests, reporting Covid-19 cases and monitoring the dashboard. Some Health Services specialists are equipped with personal protective gear and trained to transport Covid-positive students, deliver food and provide custodial service to isolation housing.
The commitment of the Covid-19 response team to leading the college through the pandemic is a reflection of the community’s hard work. Two years after the onset of the virus, the Covid-19 Response Team continues to steer students and staff through some of the most challenging times and keep our community safe.
“[T]his is a team of incredibly dedicated and versatile individuals who have the strongest commitment to keeping our community healthy and safe,” Goss said. “This work began when there were many unknowns about the virus, before vaccination and masks were a part of everyday life. They have provided both continuity and the ability to shift strategy quickly in a rapidly changing environment.”
Brinlea La Barge is a news editor.
She studies English and American Literature and Linguistics at Middlebury and is a member of the women's tennis team.
La Barge spent the summers of 2020 and 2021 working for Nantucket Magazine, writing content for the publication and assisting photo shoots. In the past, she interned at WHYY, Philadelphia’s local PBS and NPR affiliate.