Update on Massachusetts Travel Guidance and Impact on Arrival

Dear Students,

Massachusetts has made great progress to slow the spread of COVID-19 and Wheaton and all of our students have a responsibility to help keep transmission levels low. To do so, we plan to have pre-arrival requirements for all students and more details for the pre-check and arrival process will be shared with you within the next week.

Today, I wanted to share an update in regards to new state travel guidance impacting your anticipated return to Wheaton. Late last week, Massachusetts issued a new travel order that applies to all individuals entering Massachusetts, including returning residents. An exemption to this order is granted to individuals entering Massachusetts from a lower risk state designated by the Department of Public Health (DPH). States currently designated as lower risk by DPH include Connecticut, Hawaii, Maine, New Jersey, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont.

Those that do not meet the exemption must: 

  • Complete the Massachusetts Travel Form prior to arrival; and
  • Quarantine for 14 days or produce a negative COVID-19 test result that has been administered up to 72 hours prior to arrival in Massachusetts

In order to comply with the state travel order, Wheaton students coming to campus from any state, jurisdiction or country other than the lower-risk states designated above must do the following prior to arrival on campus: 

  • Provide the College with documentation of a negative COVID-19 PCR test result on a sample that was taken no more than 72 hours prior to arrival in Massachusetts; or
  • Quarantine off campus in Massachusetts or a lower risk-state until you receive a negative test result; or
  • Quarantine off campus in Massachusetts or a lower-risk state for 14 days 

At least one of the above measures must be met prior to student arrival on campus for move-in. Now that Massachusetts has opened up the opportunity to take a test prior to travel, we highly encourage students from high-risk states to take a test prior to departing your area. This state order is no longer just an advisory and the state has declared that failure to comply with the travel order may result in a $500 fine per day.

If you cannot satisfy this requirement, you should seriously consider studying remotely for the semester, as we have seen other students already choose to do. Given what we are seeing on the national level, we do not expect relaxation in these restrictions and the uncertainty of every state’s pandemic situation could even lead to any of the current states being removed from the lower-risk list.

If a parent/guardian/family member is entering Massachusetts only to drop off the student and then immediately leaves the campus and the state, then they would meet an exemption for transitory travel and need not provide a negative test or quarantine. If they are staying overnight, then they are subject to the requirements of the state’s travel order. 

All students, regardless of what state they are traveling from and whether they have a negative COVID test within 72 hours, will still be required to adhere to the college’s testing and quarantine protocols upon arrival to campus.

If you have any questions, I encourage you to pre-register for the Return to Campus Q&A Webinar taking place tomorrow, Wednesday, July 29 at 5 p.m. with myself and Associate Dean of Campus Life Ed Burnett.

Wishing you safety and health,

Dean Zack