COVID-19 Policy Updates on Student Experience

Dear Students,

Happy Friday and congratulations on completing the second week of classes! This semester has gone very smoothly so far and I can’t believe there are only 10 weeks until we break for Thanksgiving. The Reopening Task Force and the President’s Medical Advisory Council continue to monitor the health and safety conditions both on and off campus.

A few friendly reminders:

  • All students must adhere to their assigned testing frequency. For most students, this means twice weekly. You should not take two tests on consecutive days, so please plan ahead to allow for at least one day between tests. You must use the CoVerified app or website to schedule your testing appointments. For more information on CoVerified please see the Return to Campus website. Please note that the testing center will be open on Monday, September 7th.
  • All students must submit their symptom monitoring checklist daily. This can be found on the CoVerified app or website on the Report tab.
  • All participants must be cleared via CoVerified and be prepared to show this clearance to Wheaton College staff or club leaders (electronic or printed out).

Both of these policies are essential to the continuation of the semester during this pandemic. Failure to adhere to established expectations and policies will result in student conduct action up to and including removal from housing and restrictions. It is an expectation that students have a “cleared” status in CoVerified to be able to leave their residence, attend classes, and engage in other activities around campus.

As a result of a successful first two weeks on campus, I am excited to announce several policy modifications that will enhance the on-campus student experience throughout the month of September. Please note that any change in health and safety conditions and/or failure to adhere to the Community Commitment and other college policies may result in rolling back these policy modifications. Our top priority is the health and safety of this community. I know there is a desire to have a more traditional student experience and as such it is imperative that we all do our part in adhering to the expectations. The Reopening Task Force has worked diligently to make the following policy modifications:

  • Dining: Starting today, Friday, September 4, tables and chairs will be added to the tent outside of Emerson Dining Hall as well as the Pine Hall, Balfour Hood, and Admission patios to allow for outdoor dining. It is expected that students will adhere to the policies and expectations of such seating and continue to maintain 6 feet of distance from others. As such, many of the patio tables have been modified to a seating capacity of four. Please note that you are only permitted to take your mask off when eating.
  • Fitness Center: Starting Tuesday, September 8, the Pappas Fitness Center will reopen to our students, faculty, and staff who are in the testing protocol. Be sure to refer to the email from Judy Allen for more information. The Pappas Fitness Center will be open Monday through Friday from 10:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. and 3:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. as well as Saturdays from 10 a.m.–1 p.m. You must use the reservation system to schedule your hour time slot in advance. Masks or face coverings are mandatory at all times, even while using the equipment and working out. The locker rooms will be closed including showers; please don’t bring any extra items with you to work out.
  • Varsity Athletic Practices: Starting Tuesday, September 8, Varsity Athletic Teams will be permitted to start with structured team practices while adhering to NCAA and state guidance as well as college policies. This includes smaller groups, social distancing, and the use of face coverings.
  • Visitors: The Community Commitment includes “I understand that I will not be allowed to visit residence halls other than my own for at least the first two weeks of the semester. Expansion of guest privileges will be consistently evaluated and updated as conditions warrant.” We appreciate your compliance with this policy thus far. We will continue to reassess but at this time, the visitor policy will remain as it is now: you may only visit other students within your assigned residence hall or theme house. We will communicate when a modification can be made to this policy. As a reminder, there are also no external guests permitted in the campus facilities.
  • Campus Events: Starting Tuesday, September 8, student organizations will be permitted to start proposing hybrid/in-person registered events or gatherings. All in-person, on-campus events must be offered in a hybrid format and include a virtual option to allow any student to have similar engagement opportunities. All event hosts and sponsors must complete the COVID-19 Campus Events & Gathering Safety Training prior to submitting the proposal. All events must be submitted through 25Live and receive an approval for the event. More specifically, meetings with Media Services needs (and no other special needs) must be submitted at least (5) business days prior to the date and other types of events/gatherings (with more needs and details) must be submitted at least (10) business days prior to the date. At this time, in-person, off-campus college-sponsored events are not permitted. In the coming days, Residential Life will be working with RAs and the student leaders within our various residential communities to discuss event planning within residence halls and houses as well. This will be reviewed periodically and updates will be communicated as changes occur. Please see the Return to Campus website for more details.

All of these policy modification rely on continued compliance with the Community Commitment and the college’s COVID-19 Policies, including but not limited to:

  • Face Coverings: Faculty, staff, students and visitors will be required to have a mask or face covering available at all times. Masks or face coverings must be worn inside any Wheaton facility and outside where social distancing cannot be maintained, except where unsafe due to a medical condition or disability. Students may remove their facemask in their dorm room even when a roommate is present. As a result of evolving guidance and research, masks with exhalation valves are not permitted.
  • Social Distancing: The campus community should follow these social distancing practices including, but not limited to: stay at least 6 feet (about 2 arms’ lengths) from other people at all times, do not gather in groups, avoid crowded places and large gatherings, utilize virtual meeting options. Additionally, new occupancy limits have been set and furniture has been reset to adhere to these standards for all classrooms, meetings spaces, elevators and residence hall common rooms.
  • Hand Hygiene: Everyone is expected to practice good hand hygiene. Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds especially after you have been in a public space, or after blowing your nose, coughing, sneezing, or touching your face. If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.

Do not forget about your support structure through this experience including the Office of Residential Life, the Counseling Center, the Office of Advising, the Center for Social Justice and Community Impact, the Marshall Center for Intercultural Learning, and many more!

I hope you have had a strong start to the semester and continue to be well. Keep up the great work!

Be well and be safe,

Dean Zack