Happy New Year!
We hope you and your loved ones have had opportunities for connection and relaxation over the holidays.
As we prepare for the upcoming semester, we wanted to provide some updates on our campus protocols for COVID-19. Please read through all of this information as it provides updates on quarantine and isolation timelines, testing protocols, and move-in information.
As announced in December, Wheaton College is requiring all faculty, staff, and students to receive the COVID-19 booster before February 1, 2022 or once they are eligible.
Please submit a photo of your CDC vaccine card with the updated booster information to firstname.lastname@example.org. Those who plan to submit a waiver for a religious or medical exemption should contact email@example.com for more information.
We are working to schedule vaccination clinics for later in the month to provide the booster to those in the community who are eligible. More information will be sent once the dates are confirmed.
Upon recommendation by the COVID Task Force, classes will start remotely on January 26, 2022 and in-person classes will begin on January 31, 2022.
To allow for all students to have two COVID-19 PCR tests prior to the first day of in-person classes, move-in will begin on Thursday, January 20, 2022 and continue through Tuesday, January 25, 2022. All resident students, commuter students, and off-campus residents must register for their initial testing appointment during this time period, which will also be their check-in time, on the CoVerified App.
Students will be required to adhere to modified quarantine from the time of their arrival until their first negative test result. Modified quarantine means that you must remain in your room with the exception of going to get take-out from the dining hall, using the restroom, or a brief walk outside.
Additionally, we strongly encourage all students to test prior to returning to campus. While we recognize there are difficulties in accessing tests at this moment, we encourage students to test either via rapid or PCR test to confirm they are not positive prior to their return. This has already been a helpful strategy to mitigate the spread of the virus on campus during our early arrival period. If you are experiencing symptoms, you are not permitted to return to campus and should contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
As mentioned above, all students are required to have two negative PCR tests before their first in-person class. To begin the semester, all community members will be required to test twice weekly. Specifically, from the time of arrival until at least Friday, February 18, 2022, all community members should take two weekly PCR tests in the campus testing center. The Testing Center will be open Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. – 4:15 p.m. (closed 12 – 1 p.m. for lunch). Appointments should be scheduled in advance on CoVerified. Tests cannot be taken on back-to-back days, so you must plan ahead.
Quarantine and Isolation Timelines
Please note that all timelines and designations are managed by the Norton Board of Health in consultation with the Covid Testing Team. In alignment with CDC guidance, Wheaton College has adopted the new protocols and timelines for quarantine and isolation:
- If you receive a positive test result, and are asymptomatic, you may depart your isolation on day 5 after receiving your positive test. You will be expected to wear a well-fitted mask and not go to places where you are unable to wear a mask, such as restaurants and some gyms, and avoid eating around others until 10 days after your last close contact with someone with COVID-19.
- If you receive a positive test result, and are experiencing symptoms, you may depart isolation on day 5 after the positive test if symptoms improve including fever-free for 24 hours. You will be expected to wear a well-fitted mask and to not go to places where you are unable to wear a mask, such as restaurants and some gyms, and avoid eating around others until after 10 days after your last close contact with someone with COVID-19. If symptoms have not improved by day 5, you may depart isolation when symptoms improve.
- If you are deemed a close contact of a positive case, you will be required to quarantine if you are experiencing symptoms and/or you have not received a recommended booster shot when eligible.
If you have tested positive for COVID-19 over the break, please contact email@example.com with the date of your positive test and the test result.
Mask and Face Covering Policy
The CDC has issued updated guidance that KN95 masks are the most effective in mitigating the risk of infection for COVID-19 Omicron variant. We strongly encourage community members to procure and wear KN95 masks, or to double mask with surgical or cloth masks. Masks and face coverings will continue to be required in all indoor locations, with the only exceptions being while actively eating or bathing, or in your assigned room alone with your assigned roommates.
Additional Safety Measures
As the positivity and transmission rates are the highest they have been throughout the pandemic in the local communities, students are expected to limit their travel off-campus. If off-campus is required, it is expected that students will adhere to all safety measures outlined above.
Given the increased focus on the health and safety of our community, violations of the Community Standards, specific to COVID-19-related policies will result in elevated disciplinary measures. As a reminder, Wheaton’s jurisdiction extends to behaviors both on and off-campus.
- Major violations, including but not limited to, hosting a social gathering or not complying with quarantine or testing procedures, will likely result in loss of housing and restrictions from campus.
- More minor violations, such as continued non-compliance with face covering, physical distancing, and other safety measures, will likely result in conduct review.
The COVID-19 Task Force continues to monitor the conditions on campus, the local community, and CDC and Massachusetts guidance to make determinations around safety measures, including but not limited to guests and events on campus. Be sure to review the website for the most current policies, protocols, and data from campus.
We look forward to welcoming you all back on campus in a couple of weeks.
Stay safe and be well,
Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students
Associate Vice President for Student Affairs and Chair of the COVID-19 Task Force