Spring 2022 COVID-19 Plans

Dear Parents and Guardians,

This afternoon, I sent the message below to students so that they can review the latest information on how we will operate the campus this spring with regards to COVID-19. Please take a few moments to review the letter and the website so that you are familiar with our plans. I also encourage you to take some time to discuss this information with your student.

We are eager to have everyone back on campus and to launch the spring semester!

Sincerely, 

Victor Arcelus

Dean of Students

 


 

Dear Students, 

As we prepare to launch the spring semester, I am writing to you today with details about the onboarding process and to share information about how we will operate the campus this spring, given the circumstances with COVID-19. We have developed plans that will enable us to be together in person with as few interruptions to the flow of the semester as possible. 

Given the high number of cases in the country due to the Omicon variant, we anticipate that many of you will test positive for COVID-19 as you transition to campus. Thus far, we have heard from 116 of you who have had COVID-19 while off campus since the end of the fall semester. With this week’s testing, we had 19 positive students on campus and 22 positive employees. The dashboard will begin showing campus case counts this coming week. 

Given the case counts we are seeing on other campuses and our own early data, we felt that it was important to start courses in a virtual format. This will ensure that everyone has access to classes even if students need to remain at home or isolate on campus because of a positive COVID-19 test. Everyone will be able to participate during the critical start of courses.

In order for our planned start to the semester to go smoothly, it is important for everyone to return to campus as you originally planned. For most of you, this means returning to campus on Jan. 23. You need to be on campus in order to test multiple times during the first week. This will hopefully enable us to transition to in-person classes on Jan. 31. You must be in touch with your class dean before the semester starts if you have circumstances that could delay your arrival.

The vast majority of the information you need to know for the semester is now posted on the Student Guidance page on the Path Forward site. Please review this carefully because there are many changes that reflect the circumstances with Omicron and will enable us to operate the campus during the surges of COVID-19 cases that we are anticipating early in the semester. Below are a few notes that I will highlight: 

Return to Campus

  • You are expected to use a rapid antigen test to test yourself within 24 hours of returning to campus (test kits were distributed to students in December). 

    • If you test negative, take a photograph that includes the test result, your College ID, the date, and your signature (see attached sample). Bring this picture with you to the Testing Center and be prepared to show it when you check in for your on-campus onboarding PCR test.  

    • If you test positive, your main point of contact is Dean Cardwell (scardwel@conncoll.edu). Please email her to notify her of the result, stay home to recover, and she will be in touch with you to provide specific instructions on your return to campus in 6–10 days. 

  • If you have tested positive in the past 90 days and have no symptoms, you do not need to rapid antigen test before arrival and you do not need to PCR test on campus upon arrival. Please be sure to notify Dean Cardwell that you’ve had COVID-19 during this time period. She will add you to a list of students exempted from campus testing. 

  • The Testing Center will be open from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 23 for arrival.  You need to make an appointment in CoVerified. In CoVerified, select the "Spring 22 Arrival Day" schedule and then select Jan. 23 as the date.  Select from the available appointment times. If your preferred appointment time is not available, please select another time. We will be testing over 1,500 students this day, so appointments will be critical to avoiding long lines. 

Booster Clinics 

  • Some of you have had a difficult time securing an appointment to receive the booster, so we are offering two booster clinics on campus during the first week of the semester. If you have an appointment at home during the next week, please keep that appointment so that we do not run out of appointments on campus for students and employees who need them. 

  • Please register for an appointment using one of the links below. 

  • Some students who received the booster during the fall semester did not have their vaccine card updated or did not receive a new vaccine card. If this is the case for you, take note of whether your booster shot was administered on a weekday or a weekend. If it was a weekday, go to the Community Health Center clinic on the 22nd and speak to someone there about your issue. If it was on a weekend, then go to the Hartford HealthCare clinic on the 29th and speak with someone there about your issue.  

Spring Semester Protocol Highlights

  • Alert Level 2 - Yellow: As of Tuesday, Jan. 18, the campus will be operating at Alert Level 2-Yellow. See the Path Forward website for details on what this means. In general, food will be Grab and Go (eat in your room), friends in student rooms will be limited, campus visitors are limited to family members, and you should only go off campus for essential needs (groceries, pharmacy, medical appointments). We know it is important for you to be able to connect with each other. During the first week, you may still be with friends while masked in very limited numbers. Recreation and fitness spaces will remain open, along with other administrative and academic buildings on campus. We ask for everyone to be mindful of following the expectations and wearing masks consistently as we balance emotional wellbeing with the physical precautions of coming back to campus. 

  • Isolation Protocols: Please review the isolation protocols carefully on the Student Guidance page, because our approach has changed given the likelihood of surges in cases. Below are just a few highlights:    

    • If you live in a single, the plans for the spring are the same as the protocols we put in place in late September–if you contract COVID-19, you will isolate in your room and use a bathroom in the building that is designated for isolation. 

    • If you live in a double, triple, or quad, and your home is in a drivable distance from campus and you can isolate at home in a private room, then you and your family should make plans for you to isolate at home if you contract COVID-19. This is an important way that you can help the College manage a surge so that students who cannot go home can isolate themselves in the limited number of designated isolation rooms that we have on campus and at a hotel.

    • Given that we are expecting to have a number of positive cases on campus during the first week back, we will start the semester with one bathroom in each residence hall designated as an isolation bathroom. There will be a sign on the door noting this designation. 

    • Remember to bring a thermometer with you to Conn so that you can take your temperature if you have COVID-19. Whether you have a fever is an important factor in determining when you can leave isolation. 

  • Testing:

    • Twice weekly PCR Testing: Due to the large volume of tests being processed at the Broad Institute and staffing challenges due to Omicron, the lab has forewarned us that test results may take more than 24 hours to receive. Please be patient in receiving your test results.  

    • Symptomatic Testing: In addition to regular twice weekly PCR testing, if you feel symptoms that could be COVID-19, you have access to rapid antigen tests through the Testing Center so that you do not need to wait for your test day to be tested or have to make an appointment at Student Health Services for a rapid test. This allows you to get a result quickly and helps Student Health Services focus on seeing students with other medical needs.  

      • If you are within the 90 day period of time since having had COVID-19, you will not be  PCR testing; but if you have symptoms consistent with COVID-19, you should use an antigen test to determine if you have COVID-19 again. 

      • Antigen tests will be available in the Alice Johnson Room (adjacent to the 1941 room). 

  • Mask Wearing: It is recommended that people wear a surgical mask, KN95 mask or N95 mask. If wearing a cloth mask, it is recommended that it has filters designed into the multiple cloth layers. All masks must be covering the nose and mouth and be tight fitting around the face. While supplies are available, KN95 and N95 masks are available at the Testing Center. These masks can be used over an extended period of time. Please use discretion in how many masks you take so that others on campus have access to them as well.  

Thank you in advance for taking the time to review the information on the Student Guidance page. It is very important for you to be familiar with this material so that we can all have a successful semester on campus. 

Travel safely and see you soon! 

Sincerely, 

Victor Arcelus
Dean of Students