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College delays start of J-Term in response to Omicron surge

The college has decided to postpone the start of the J-Term to January 10, in an email to the Middlebury community sent on December 22. The term will also end a day later, on February 3, making the term four days shorter than originally planned. This change will be accompanied by several other adjustments, including eating at the start, mandatory testing twice a week, and possibly restrictions on gathering sizes and travel outside of Addison County.

In the email, the college stated that the goal of the late start is to give staff and faculty time to prepare due to the recent surge in Covid-19 cases due to the Omicron variant.

Students are allowed to arrive on January 8 or 9, and must also submit a negative Covid-19 PCR/NAAT test within three days of arriving on campus. Access. A December 23 email from Dean of Students Derek Doucet explained that when students arrive on campus, they must go directly to the Virtue Fieldhouse Test Center, a procedure that students followed in the Fall 2020 and Spring 2020 semesters but did not happen in Fall 2021.

Classes will be online for at least the first two days of the J-Term, with the expectation that most classes will switch to an in-person format as students receive their access test results.

The college also mandates testing twice a week for at least the first two weeks of classes, with mandatory testing possible throughout the winter term. This is in addition to the tests required upon arrival and between five to seven days after arrival.

The email also noted other expected changes to the health and safety outlook, including restrictions on gathering sizes and travel outside of Addison County.

“Students with plans to travel, out-of-district training, or other obligations that could be restricted by the restrictions set forth by the Campus Status Webpage, should consider foregoing the winter term,” the email states.

The email also acknowledged that a late start date will disrupt travel plans, and said students designated as high-need by Student Financial Services will receive a separate letter about financial assistance for travel costs.

In a separate announcement on December 22, NESCAC stated that all spectators at indoor sporting events should be part of the host institution’s testing protocols, with most family members and students from visiting teams excluded from attendance.

The college said it expects a high number of positive but mild cases on campus, making it possible that they will not be able to accommodate students who have tested positive in the isolated housing provided by the college. As a result, the college stated that students may be required to travel off-campus or isolate inside their own bedrooms, if they are able to do so.

“We are asking any student who tests positive and is able to safely complete their isolation period off campus to do so. Additionally, students who are able to isolate in their rooms may be required to do so if the number of low-risk students who have tested positive exceeds the capacity of the isolated housing “.

Students are also strongly encouraged to schedule a Covid-19 booster dose as soon as possible. Those who cannot make an appointment before arriving on campus should schedule an appointment when they arrive in Vermont for the winter. Students who are not yet eligible for support are expected to make an appointment within two weeks of eligibility.

The ad also included advice for high-risk students.

“Students who are not vaccinated and/or immunocompromised should consult with their medical provider and consider carefully whether a living environment on campus is appropriate at this time,” the email stated.

Managing Editor Abigail Chang and Editor-in-Chief Riley Board contributed reporting.

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Lucy Townend

Lucy Townend ’22 is the Managing Editor along with Abigail Chang.

Previously, she worked as Senior Section Editor, Local Editor, and Copy Editor.

Townend majors in international politics and economics, has taught French throughout her years at Middlebury and plans to complete a dissertation focusing on income inequality and system change.

Last summer, Towne trained as a private banking analyst at a mid-sized bank in Chicago and plans to continue her career there after graduation.


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