Return to Campus Information
Happy New Year! I hope that you are having the chance to rest and recharge a bit before we start the second semester.
As far as COVID-19 planning, the work has certainly not slowed down given information about the Omicron variant and new guidance from the CDC. Over the past few weeks, we have been developing protocols for the spring that are evolving as new information and guidance emerges. We have been in regular contact with Hartford HealthCare and in nearly daily contact with peer institutions within and beyond Connecticut to develop the best plan for the coming semester.
We are eager to be back together and for everyone to be fully engaged—in person and across campus. Given what we have learned from peer schools that started this week, we expect that a number of you will test positive at home before coming to campus or will test positive during the first week, leading to students in isolation on and off campus. As a result, we will have a brief onboarding period with the first week of instruction delivered online, so that everyone can start their classes together without disruption. We are in good company in this approach as Harvard, Yale, UConn and NESCAC peers have also announced beginning the semester with classes online for varying periods of time.
You should not, however, use this as a reason to delay your return to campus. If you test negative at home, you should come to campus as planned on Jan. 23 or other approved date. Not arriving as scheduled will delay our ability to complete the onboarding process as a community.
As we look ahead to the semester, the College is working on ways to minimize the likelihood for outbreaks and, in particular, an outbreak that exceeds the number of students that we can support in isolation. More detailed protocols will be shared in a message next week. I know many of you have questions right now about how the semester will start, so I share below some of our thinking in advance:
Testing and Isolating
We are currently piloting a shorter isolation period consistent with the new CDC guidance. This includes an exit antigen test process, with two consecutive negatives before leaving isolation.
When you left campus, each of you were given an at-home rapid antigen test kit. You will be required to test within 24 hours of returning to campus.
If you test positive, you may not return to campus until you have two negative antigen test results between Days 5 and 10 (the day of your diagnosis is Day 0).
If you experienced COVID-19 in the 90 days before your return, you do not need to test unless you are experiencing COVID-19 related symptoms in the days before your arrival to campus. If you do have symptoms, you will need to use the at-home antigen test to determine if you have COVID-19 again.
If you contracted COVID-19 in the time between leaving campus and returning, please email Dean Cardwell (email@example.com) and provide her with the date you were positive. You will not need to PCR test during the 90 days after your positive diagnosis. If you are in the 90-day window of time but have COVID-19 symptoms, you should get tested with a rapid antigen test to determine whether you have COVID-19 again.
It will be important to take extra precautions in the two weeks before coming to campus to limit the chances that you contract COVID-19 before your arrival on campus. Among the precautions to take: please wear a mask, avoid crowded areas, and do not eat/drink in indoor restaurants or bars.
Most of you will return to campus on Jan. 23. When you arrive on campus you will need to go directly to the Testing Center to check in (Cro 1941 Room), show an image of your negative at-home test result, and get your PCR test. You will then begin your regular twice-per-week testing regime. More details about arrival day will be sent later. Some of you will be returning before the 23rd for special programs. Please follow arrival directions provided by your host. We are recommending to faculty and staff that all trainings/workshops/programs before Jan. 24 be conducted in an online format.
Campus Operations During Onboarding
For the start of the new semester, dining halls and coffee shops will be grab-and-go. We will shift to offering seating in the dining rooms and coffee shops as soon as possible, but we want to limit unmasked eating in groups through the onboarding process.
Offices across campus will be open and faculty and staff can meet with you individually as they normally would while classes and workshops are online. Meetings can be in person or via Zoom.
Boosters and Masks
All those who are eligible are expected to receive the booster and upload documentation into the Student Health Services Portal before returning to campus. Connecticut College is requiring students and employees to receive a COVID-19 booster by Feb. 1 or within 14 days of becoming eligible. Please note that the CDC recently updated the eligibility period for the booster.
If your initial vaccination was Moderna then you qualify six months after your second dose.
If your initial vaccination was Pfizer then you qualify five months after your second dose.
If your initial vaccination was Johnson & Johnson then you qualify two months after your single dose.
We are finalizing plans for one or two booster clinics in late January. Please do not wait for these clinics to receive your booster. There will be limited appointments available on campus, so try to schedule a booster before your return. If you have recently had COVID-19, contact your healthcare provider for guidance on when you should receive your booster shot. If you received an approved exemption from a COVID-19 vaccination, you will continue to be exempt from the booster requirement. If you are requesting a new exemption please be in contact with Student Health Services (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Mask wearing is critically important. Please be sure that you are wearing a mask that covers your nose and mouth and is tight fitting around your face. It is recommended that people wear a surgical mask, KN95 mask, N95 mask, or cloth mask that has filters designed into the cloth material. The College will have a limited supply of N95 and KN95 masks to distribute to students and employees who would like them at the start of the semester. Details on how to access these masks will be shared in a subsequent message.
We hope this information is helpful as you prepare for your return to campus. Plans are being refined and will be shared over the course of the coming weeks. We are eager to bring you all back to campus and to be fully engaged in person in the classroom and across campus.
Dean of Students