Campus COVID-19 Policy Modifications Effective March 22

It was great to see so many students on Friday for Dimple Dining, the Spring Into Wellness Scavenger Hunt, and enjoying the warm weather with friends on the Dimple.  I am hopeful that we will have more of these spring-like days in the near future.  As we reach the midpoint of the semester, I wanted to take a moment to remind everyone of the current community expectations, including the Community Commitment and the campus COVID-19 policies, as well as provide some updates on policy and protocol modifications:

  • Testing: All students are required to test twice weekly throughout the semester if they are living on campus or coming to campus at least three times a week for any reason. A week is considered Monday through Friday and you cannot test on back-to-back days. Schedule all of your semester appointments ahead of time in the CoVerified App. Please take note that the testing center is closed 12pm-1pm for lunch, and closes at 4:15pm for the day.
  • Face Coverings: All community members are required to wear a mask or face covering at all times when you are outside your residence hall room, with the exception of bathing and eating. Please note that bandanas, neck gaiters and masks with exhalation valves are not As some N95 masks have these valves, those will be permitted only with a surgical mask used over the N95 mask.
  • Travel: All students have been encouraged to limit their travel off campus to essential travel only. A special note about the Massachusetts Travel Order: you will be required to adhere to the travel order if you choose to leave the state at any time during the semester. Please email [email protected] if you plan to leave the state overnight.
  • Vaccinations: If you were able to receive a COVID-19 vaccination, please email [email protected] with a picture of your vaccination card with the dates.
  • Given the increased focus on the health and safety of our community, violations of the Community Standards and COVID-19-related policies will result in elevated disciplinary measures. Major violations, including but not limited to, hosting a social gathering or not complying with quarantine/isolation procedures, will likely result in loss of housing and restriction from campus. As a reminder, Wheaton’s jurisdiction extends to behaviors both on and off campus.

The COVID-19 Task Force continues to consider how to prioritize health and safety while enhancing the student and community experience.  Specifically, Governor Baker has announced that the state will move to Phase 4, part 1 of the State’s Reopening Plan this Monday, March 22.  This new guidance permits for some re-evaluation of current policies on campus. As the COVID-19 conditions and compliance on campus remain consistent, the current campus policies have been a point of discussion at the Task Force subcommittees, where students are represented and have the ability to share feedback from their classmates.  These subcommittees continue to assess the current conditions on and off campus, state guidance, and feedback from our community. After careful consideration by the Task Force and President’s Council, and the announcement of this new phase of the State’s Reopening Guidelines, we are prepared to make the following policy modifications:

Residential Guest Policy

Starting Monday, March 22, on-campus residential students may have any on-campus residential student as their guest in their private bedroom area of their assigned residence hall, house or suite.  Residential students are not permitted to have guests that live off campus or other guests from outside the Wheaton community, including family members, in a residence hall at any time. At this time, due to the nature of the necessary COVID-19 precautions, “overnight“ guests are not permitted.  A guest would be classified as “overnight” if they are present in the room when any room occupant is sleeping regardless of when they arrive or depart the room.

Each room resident is able, and limited, to host only one guest at a time. As such, the maximum occupancy of a room with one resident present is two people, and the maximum occupancy of a room with two or more residents present is four people. All instances of a guest visit must receive approval from both roommates.  Approval can be revoked by either party at any time.

Guests are not permitted in residential common areas of any hall, suite or house because common areas are reserved for the residents of that building, suite or house only. Common areas include lounges, bathrooms, kitchens, private living rooms (in the case of houses and suites), etc.

Clearance on the CoVerified app is required for guest privileges. Both the host and the guest are responsible to confirm that they are “Cleared” through CoVerified. While guests are in a room, face coverings must be worn at all times and proper social distancing is required. In circumstances where room size or layout does not allow for proper social distancing, guests are not permitted, regardless of the capacity limits listed above.

To respect the principles of college residential living, Wheaton will not be regularly monitoring guests.  Access to residence halls is only provided to residents and it is incumbent on the community to self-monitor and ensure compliance with these guidelines. Failure to comply with the guest policy will result in removal of guest privileges and may result in removal from housing.

Campus Events

Starting Monday, March 22, event capacities will be increased and then re-evaluated on a bi-weekly basis for the remainder of the semester.  Specifically, indoor events can have a maximum attendance of 20 individuals and outdoor events can have a maximum attendance of 40 individuals as of Monday.  Groups must comply with all other policies and protocols for campus events available on the Return to Campus Website.

Outdoor Recreation Spaces

Effective immediately, outdoor recreational spaces are reopened for use by Wheaton community members.  Specifically, the outdoor basketball court, beach volleyball court, and other outdoor spaces are open for activity. The state guidance allows for these locations to be utilized for activity while adhering to the other policies already implemented on campus regarding face coverings and social distancing.  Additionally, to adhere to current athletic and recreation guidelines, games on these surfaces should be limited to 10 people or less. Please note that the following athletic surfaces are still restricted to varsity and club sport athletic practices and games; Nordin Field, Keefe Field, Mirrione Stadium, Sidell Stadium, Clark Tennis Courts, Clark Softball Field.

Indoor Dining

As you can already see, additional seats will be available at each table in the campus dining facilities. In adherence with state guidance, up to 2-4 individuals can sit at each table depending on the size of the table.  Please adhere to the seating arrangements and do not move the tables and chairs.  Dining indoors will continue to be limited to 30-minutes at one time.

We hope that these policy modifications will help enhance your on-campus student experience and allow for more opportunities to socialize in a safe manner and help with the concerns of isolation on campus.  These are policy updates that the majority of schools within our region have not made and do not plan to make, but I am confident in our community that we can relax these restrictions and still work together to ensure the health and safety of one another.  The Return to Campus Task Force is also engaged with student groups to continue the conversation about reimagining traditions for the remainder of the year. Specifically, we are in detailed discussions around how to offer traditional programming during Spring Weekend, Senior Week, and Commencement that can be shared experiences by those on and off campus while keeping the integrity of the traditions.

To all of our students, on campus and around the globe, we hope you are doing well and that you are taking care of yourself.  Please be sure to check for the most up-to-date information regarding upcoming events and you can connect with us on social media as well.  Even if we are not all in one place, we are still one community.

Stay safe and be well,

Dean Zack