COVID-19 Protocols Update

Dear Wheaton Community,

We continue to prioritize the health, safety, and wellness of our community, as we have done during each phase of the COVID-19 pandemic. Today, we are writing with updates that position the community to continue its transition toward an endemic phase of operations. 

In the first month of the semester, we saw great compliance with policies and protocols within our community, which has likely contributed to the significant decrease in positive case numbers in the last few weeks. The declining positive case rates on campus and locally, in combination with our community’s 99% vaccination compliance and 92% booster compliance, have made it possible for the COVID-19 Task Force to implement the following changes to current protocols.  

Masking

In line with the recommendations from the Massachusetts Governor, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, and other medical professionals, beginning Monday, February 28, 2022, the college will shift to a “mask optional” policy for vaccinated and boosted individuals for indoor campus spaces, with the exception of classrooms and academic spaces while faculty-led pedagogical work is in session, Norton Medical Center, Counseling Center, and the Testing Center. Masking will continue to be required for all individuals in these spaces. 

Individuals who are unvaccinated or who have not yet received the vaccine booster are still required to wear masks indoors on campus. We also encourage masking where individuals have underlying medical concerns for themselves or family members. 

Residence Hall Guests

The college will begin to permit non-Wheaton guests into the residence halls in adherence to the college’s policy and protocol for guests starting Monday, February 28, 2022. Additional information is available on the Residential Life webpage.

Testing

The college will continue once per week surveillance testing for all members of our community. Community members who are unvaccinated or who have not yet received the vaccine booster should continue to test twice weekly.  Members of the community who are fully vaccinated and boosted and who would like to test more than once weekly should contact covidtesting@wheatoncollege.edu.

The college is prepared and ready to reinstate at any time any of the mitigation strategies utilized during the previous two years should infection rates increase. As we approach this endemic phase, ownership and consideration of COVID-19 policies and protocols will begin to transfer to individual divisions in anticipation of disbanding the COVID-19 Task Force after the spring semester. Over the next few months, COVID-19 Task Force members will work with vice presidents and divisions across campus to start planning for this transition, and more information including consultation with task force members will be provided. 

We understand that the change in these protocols may have a more significant impact on our community members who are immunocompromised or have family members who are immunocompromised or unvaccinated. We welcome your feedback as we continue to think carefully through our protocols. As a community, we have worked together and must continue to do so, to apply lessons learned from this pandemic to create a better campus experience that prioritizes health, wellness, safety, and connection. 

Sincerely,

Darnell Parker, Ed.D
Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students

Zachary Irish
Associate Vice President for Student Affairs and Chair of the COVID-19 Task Force