Move to Remote Learning and New Campus Restrictions 

Dear Wheaton Community,

Please take the time to review this communication carefully. Although we have led an amazing semester on campus, the community is faced with its first spike in COVID-19 cases. Since we began testing back in August, we have seen the largest one-day total of positive test results with 13 community members (12 students and 1 non-student). These positive cases were notified this morning and contact tracing efforts are underway to identify any close contacts. Residential students, please prepare a quarantine bag in the event that you are identified as a close contact and need to relocate to quarantine. Check out the college’s website for more information about quarantine housing.

College leadership and members of the Return to Campus Task Force met this morning to discuss a plan to keep the community safe and mitigate the risk of further outbreak.  Today, our staff in collaboration with the Contact Tracing Collaborative will be dedicated to in-depth contact tracing of these positive cases. We have implemented several campus restrictions that will take effect immediately. The college has also made a decision to shift all in-person classes to remote learning on Friday, November 6 until further notice as we monitor the cases.  

Effective Immediately:

  • Dining is limited to grab and go only. In-person dining at all campus dining facilities is not an option until further notice. You will be able to select your food for takeout only.
  • Resident students may not visit other residence halls.  The Guest Policy has been placed on hold until further notice. Visitation is limited to the residence hall where you live, although it is encouraged that you do not visit others for the next couple of days or utilize common spaces to ensure social distancing.
  • In-person campus events are on hold until further notice. The offices of Conference and Events and SAIL will contact groups who have in-person events planned, but all events will need to be virtual at this time.
  • Athletics practices are cancelled until further notice. Your coaches will be in contact with additional information.
  • Fitness Center is closed until further notice.

Effective Tomorrow:

  • Resident students will be placed on Modified Quarantine (details below) beginning Friday, November 6 at 8 a.m.
  • In-person classes will shift to remote learning until further notice. Faculty will resume their courses via virtual learning methods. Please communicate directly with your faculty about any questions or concerns.
  • Commuting students will be restricted from campus until further notice and should take the same precautions as resident students to prioritize their health and safety.
  • Only staff critical to the COVID-19 mitigation efforts should come to campus. All other faculty and staff included in our testing protocol may come to campus for the sole purpose of getting tested.

A Modified Quarantine means that resident students would be permitted to leave their room only to:

  • Use the bathroom on their floor or in their house/suite.
  • For the purposes of picking up take-out from the dining facilities on campus. 
  • Go outside periodically for fresh air.
  • Go to the testing site for your scheduled test.
  • Attend necessary medical appointments.
  • Work scheduled shifts for off-campus employment.

All students are expected to comply with the Modified Quarantine to support our mitigation efforts. Any student who does not comply with these requirements and restrictions will face student conduct actions, including sanctions up to and including removal from housing or restriction from campus. 

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. Several cases this semester suggest that the isolated cases were contracted when students left campus. Please share this responsibility in keeping the campus community safe.

The student cases are a mix of off-campus and residential students and are not concentrated to any one group of students (i.e. class, residence hall, club or team). As contact tracing may provide insight into how the virus was contracted and spread, additional precautions may be announced. These campus restrictions have been implemented to prioritize the health and safety of the community. Please adhere to all policies to ensure a safe environment.

I am sure you are anxious to get your next COVID-19 test. Please note that you cannot test more than twice a week. The testing center does not take walk-ins. If you have not met your required two tests for this week, please log onto CoVerified and make an appointment. You cannot test two days in a row. If you have not done so already, please make your appointments for the rest of the semester. 

With the decision to move to remote learning and increase campus restrictions, some of you may wish to leave early and continue your studies off campus with just a few weeks left before the Thanksgiving recess. Students should test no more than 72 hours prior to leaving campus and must adhere to the different state travel orders. As you know by now, COVID-19 has a long incubation period so if you choose to go home, even with a negative test result today, please acknowledge that you are still taking on the risk of passing the virus to your family, friends, and loved ones. If students do plan to leave for the remainder of the semester, please be sure to refer to communication from Lyndsey Aguilar sent on November 4 regarding procedures for leaving for break.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact covidtesting@wheatoncollege.edu. If you have a positive test result or are identified as a close contact, you will be notified by our staff on next steps. Be sure to comply with all college policies around face coverings, social distancing, and adhere to your assigned testing cadence.

Be well and be safe,

Dean Zack