COVID-19 Update on Campus Operations

Dear Wheaton Community,

Thank you for your cooperation with the shift in operations that took place one week ago with our uptick in COVID-19 cases. The quick action taken by the community as a whole mitigated the risk of further outbreak on campus. The Contact Tracing Collaborative (CTC) worked quickly with the college to identify those who needed to quarantine. The efforts of the college and the community to stop the spread have been positively recognized by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.

We are continuing to monitor the situation on and off campus, and want to provide a safe end of the semester on campus for our entire community. As such, the priority for the next 12 days will continue to be the health and safety of our community. We also recognize the stress that is caused by the modified quarantine for those remaining on campus and thus the Return to Campus Task Force has made the decision to implement the following policy modifications for students, faculty, and staff who maintain their assigned testing cadence over the next two weeks:

Effective tomorrow, Friday, November 13, 2020

  • The Modified Quarantine is lifted effective 8 a.m. tomorrow, Friday, November 13, 2020. Resident Students are not permitted to visit other Residence Halls or Theme Houses, but students are no longer required to stay in their rooms. Students are still encouraged to limit their movement both on and off campus
  • Academic classes will continue to be held remotely, but faculty have the ability to meet with students in classroom, studio and lab spaces while adhering to social distancing and classroom safety protocols. Resident and commuting students may attend these  in-person opportunities as long as they are compliant with their testing cadence.
  • Students may access studio and lab space for academic purposes to complete assignments with faculty permission.  Social distancing, capacity limits, and all other safety protocols must be maintained at all times in these spaces.
  • The Library will reopen for the rest of the semester with the following hours:  Sunday 12 PM to 7 PM, Monday through Thursday 9 AM to 6 PM, and Friday 9 AM to 4 PM.

Effective Monday, November 16, 2020

  • The Fitness Center will reopen following its published policies and protocols, and will close for the semester on Friday, November 20.

It appears that many close contacts were the result of large, and in some cases small,  gatherings. To mitigate the risk of an outbreak situation, gatherings, including the use of common rooms in the Residence Halls, sponsoring and attending in-person campus events, and indoor dining will not be options for the remainder of the semester.

Late night dining options will also be modified for the remainder of the semester to limit interactions and adhere to recent state restrictions. Late night dining  in Emerson will end on Friday, November 13. Starting on Saturday, November 14 and running through Monday, November 23, Emerson will close at 7 PM and Chase will remain open for late night dining until 11 PM seven nights a week.  The dining halls close for the semester on Tuesday, November 24th (Chase at 8 PM and Emerson at 7 PM).

As we have strongly encouraged in all of our communication, all community members should limit their off-campus travel. Given the increase in cases in the campus and local community, you should not be leaving campus unless it is essential. Contact tracing this semester suggests that the isolated cases were contracted when students left campus. Please share this responsibility in keeping the campus community safe.

Some students have chosen to leave campus for off-campus residences as a result of last week’s uptick in cases. Before leaving campus, all students should be sure to return their keys and complete the checkout form. The semester checkout procedures were outlined in the email from Lyndsey Aguilar on November 5. Also, students should test no more than 72 hours prior to leaving campus and must adhere to the different state travel orders. To help our students meet these various travel orders, we have added testing hours on Saturday, November 21.

Any community member who tests positive from this point forward runs the risk of being in quarantine or isolation during Thanksgiving and our priority is to get our students to their next destination safely and for our employees to enjoy the holiday season with their families. We must be vigilant at all times and continue to practice social distancing, wear masks, and adhere to all other safety policies and protocols.

Thank you again for your ongoing partnership in keeping the Wheaton community healthy and safe. I wish you best of luck for the remainder of the semester.

Be well and be safe,

Dean Zack