COVID-19 protocols for the Fall 2022 semester

As we prepare to welcome our community back for the third academic year since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are optimistic and hopeful for a more traditional campus experience. While this pandemic has demonstrated that the situation can evolve at any point in time, please carefully review our current plans for COVID-19 management for the fall semester.

Vaccination and Booster Requirement
All students, staff, and faculty must be “up-to-date” with an approved COVID-19 primary series vaccine, and receive the first booster shot within 30 days of becoming eligible. All new students and employees should submit proof of their vaccinations unless they request, and the college approves, a medical or religious exemption.

We will not be conducting regular asymptomatic testing on campus this semester. Students are strongly encouraged to test 12-24 hours prior to returning to campus.

Faculty, staff, and students are encouraged to procure rapid tests on their own to be able to test themselves after exposure or when experiencing symptoms. Tests are available from the U.S. government as well as many local pharmacies.

Rapid tests remain available to symptomatic students. Any community member who is experiencing symptoms and is unable to procure their own rapid test should contact the Dean of Students’ Office or Health Services.

At this time, masking will be optional for all members of the community and visitors to the community, including academic spaces, with the exception of masks being required for all when visiting the Counseling Center and the Norton Medical Center. Masks are an important tool in containing viral spread, and the college will assess the campus and larger community situation, along with advice from the CDC and Norton Board of Health, and may issue mask guidelines during the semester.

Positive Test Protocol
Any community members who test positive for COVID-19 are required to isolate for 5 full days, regardless of a subsequent negative test result, as stated by CDC guidelines.

More specifically, the timeline of isolation is as follows: The date of symptom onset is day 0 (if there are no symptoms, day 0 is the date of the test). Community members are cleared to return to regular campus activities with a firm-fitted mask on the morning of day 6 (days 0-5 are in isolation) as long as they are 24 hours fever-free and all other symptoms are improving. Masking is required until 10 days after their positive test result.

If a residential student tests positive for COVID-19, they must:

  1. Complete this form: Reporting a COVID-19 Positive Test Result (Student) (also available on the Community Reporting page of insideWheaton)
  2. May isolate off-campus or isolate in place (more information listed below)

If a student living off campus tests positive for COVID-19, they must:

  1. Complete this form: Reporting a COVID-19 Positive Test Result (Student) (also available on the Community Reporting page of insideWheaton)
  2. Isolate off-campus following CDC guidelines for isolation.

Isolation in Place Protocol

Students who are isolating in place are expected to, for the duration of their isolation period:
Mask up: A positive student must wear a mask at all times unless they are in their room alone, or actively bathing and eating.

Physical distancing: In rooms where the positive student may have a roommate, try to reconfigure the room to allow for maximum space between beds and students. Masks should be worn in the room during the isolation period. Students are also encouraged to open the window for ventilation.

Limit time outside of the room: The positive student should only leave their room to use the communal bathroom, get food, or go for a quick walk outside by themselves. Positive students should limit their interaction with others and limit their time outside of their room during the isolation period.

Please note: the college will not be delivering food or cleaning supplies to the residents in the rooms. Students are responsible for coordinating their own meals and any other supplies that they may need during their stay in isolation.

The college has adopted this isolation protocol based on public health guidance and best practices of other institutions within higher education. Students are able to isolate in place as residence hall rooms are considered households and if a resident tests positive, it can be assumed that the roommate has already been exposed.

With more than two years of experience under quite variable conditions, we have the understanding and processes to allow for a flexible approach moving forward. We will be prepared and ready to implement any of our previous mitigation strategies as needed to prioritize our collective health, wellness, safety and connection.

We are extremely grateful for our entire community’s ability to work together throughout the past 30 months and we will need to continue that support and flexibility as we adapt moving forward.

Thank you and be well,
Darnell Parker, Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students
Zachary Irish, Associate Vice President for Student Affairs