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Wednesday, Oct 27, 2021

Breaking: College plans to return to majority in-person teaching, normal operations this fall

<a href="" rel="attachment wp-att-54413"></a> <span class="photocreditinline"><a href="">Benjy Renton</a></span><br />Students eat dinner outside on March 9, 2020 — the day before Middlebury announced the suspension of on-campus classes because of the national Covid-19 outbreak.
Benjy Renton
Students eat dinner outside on March 9, 2020 — the day before Middlebury announced the suspension of on-campus classes because of the national Covid-19 outbreak.

The college announced its current intentions for next semester — including majority in-person classes — and expressed its hopes to return to pre-pandemic activities and operations in an email update from President Laurie Patton, Dean of Students Derek Doucet and Chief Health Officer Mark Peluso.

We do not have all of the details set, but we are encouraged by the news about vaccine availability in Vermont and the United States and wanted to share this information with you so that you may meaningfully begin your own planning,” they said in the email.

Even so, Middlebury will not require all students to return to in-person learning next September. The administrators said the college is prepared to provide remote options for students who may be unable to study on campus in fall 2021.

The emails also noted that the college expects all faculty, staff and students will be vaccinated by the start of next fall, barring those with a religious or medical exemption. Before the start of the spring semester, students signed the health pledge — a requirement for all regardless of modality or enrollment status — committing to getting a Covid-19 vaccine “once it becomes available and when directed by the College, unless [they] have a documented medical or religious exemption.”

Middlebury hopes to offer vaccinations to students and employees this spring, and administrators are in communication with the state, according to the email. The college has so far not shared a vaccination plan.

This follows Governor Phil Scott’s announcement on Friday that all Vermonters will be eligible for the vaccine by the end of April. Students will become eligible on April 19, according to the press release. The college reiterated this date and linked information about vaccine registration in the update.

Some students have already received the vaccine due to jobs as essential workers or high risk conditions. Members of the Middlebury Ski Patrol — the first responders who monitor the slopes at the Snow Bowl — were vaccinated this winter. The college is not currently tracking which students are partially or fully vaccinated.

The administrators reminded students to remain vigilant and closed the email with a note of appreciation for the efforts of the Middlebury community throughout the pandemic.

“We are grateful that we have been able to bring our students back to campus. There is energy and excitement when our students are with us,” they wrote. “For that very reason we look forward to expanding activities and in-person experiences before too long.”