Editor’s note: This announcement is from Middlebury College President Laurie Patton, David Provost, executive vice president for finance and administration, and Jeff Cason, provost.
Dear Middlebury Community,
As we continue to plan for a return to more normal operations in the fall semester, we are writing with some updates about vaccination expectations and requirements as well as our return to more in-person work and learning. We shared in a recent update our expectations for summer programs, and we are following up with further information about our ongoing transition.
Updates about the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey return-to-campus plans in the fall are being shared in a separate message. Previous messages about the fall semester also are posted on the MIIS return-to-campus website.
In this email we will address:
- The path forward
- Fall vaccination expectations and requirements
- Employees working remotely
- Opportunities for vaccination
- Registration and assistance with vaccination appointments
- Medical and religious exemptions and accommodations
- Vaccination documentation
The Path Forward
Looking ahead to the fall semester, it is increasingly clear that Middlebury’s path to resuming more in-person instruction, events, and on-campus work is dependent on increasing the number of people who are vaccinated. We continue to monitor the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Vermont Department of Health guidance and are in regular conversations with state officials and higher education peers. We are encouraged by recent declines in cases of COVID-19 in the United States and in Vermont, while at the same time mindful of the terrible circumstances in India and other parts of the world where the pandemic has overtaken healthcare resources and caused untold loss of life and livelihood.
Scientific research tells us that vaccination of the vast majority of our community will provide the best possible protection against COVID-19. We expect that once most individuals are vaccinated, we will be able to relax restrictions, move away from testing and capacity limits, and resume more activities and events. We will of course continue to follow appropriate health and safety protocols to protect our entire community as long as we need to, consistent with local conditions and government directives.
For these reasons, we will require all students, faculty, and staff living, learning, or working on campus in the fall to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, except for those with an approved medical or religious exemption. Fully vaccinated means that two weeks have passed since a person received the final dose of their vaccine.
Fall Vaccination Expectations and Requirements
We recognize that some individuals will have special circumstances, varying levels of opportunity, and differing timelines for their fall preparations, and we are committed to working with all individuals to overcome any barriers to vaccination.
With all that in mind, following is a list of dates that full vaccination is required for various groups:
- All students who plan to enroll for in-person learning at Middlebury in the fall must be fully vaccinated before their return to campus. This means they must have received their final dose of the vaccine no later than 14 days prior to arrival. Additional guidelines are as follows:
- Students living in the United States should receive a U.S. Food and Drug Administration-approved vaccine (Pfizer, Moderna, or Johnson & Johnson) prior to their arrival.
- Students living abroad without access to the FDA-approved COVID-19 vaccines should prioritize WHO approved COVID-19 vaccines, followed by any other government vaccines provided in their location prior to coming to campus.
- As previously announced, current students must declare fall intentions by May 21.
Faculty and Staff:
- All faculty and staff working on campus at Middlebury in the fall must be fully vaccinated as of Monday, August 16. We have chosen this date because we expect many departments currently working remotely to return to close-to-normal levels of in-person work by mid-August. (Given that our Language Schools will begin on June 24, employees who will be on campus this summer should be fully vaccinated by June 10). Specific dates of return to in-person work will vary depending on work function or department, but employees should plan to become fully vaccinated as soon as possible—and no later than 14 days prior to their arrival on campus. More information will be shared by vice presidents about the transition from mostly remote operations as it becomes available.
We have listened to input from a wide range of constituents in formulating our mandatory vaccination policy, and our plans are consistent with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidanceand the American College Health Association, as well as the Vermont Forward Plan, which is dependent on a large number of people being vaccinated. With all Vermont residents age 16 and older and all college students eligible to be vaccinated in Vermont as of April 29, opportunities for vaccination are now widely available for students, faculty, and staff, including at clinics on campus and at several other locations in Middlebury and Addison County.
We have been encouraged to learn that many in the Middlebury community are already fully vaccinated or have begun the process. As of May 13, 51 percent of Vermonters age 16 and older are fully vaccinated, and 69.9 percent have received at least one dose, according to the Vermont Department of Health. In Addison County, 77.8 percent of those eligible—the highest percentage among Vermont counties—have begun the vaccination process.
Employees Working Remotely
Each member of the Senior Leadership Group is responsible for developing a return-to-campus plan for employees in their areas and will provide additional information once it becomes available. We are reviewing lessons learned from the past year and are applying them in our plans for the fall and beyond. It is our expectation that staff who currently work remotely will continue to do so through the completion of summer programs and that many will return to on-campus work by mid-August. As we move to in-person instruction in the fall, we will strive to strike a balance that realizes the benefits of flexible work arrangements without sacrificing the high quality of services that we deliver to our students and employees.
Opportunities for Vaccination
We offered our first vaccine clinics on campus for students, faculty, and staff in April, and we continue to facilitate all opportunities for vaccination. We will do everything we can to remove barriers to this process, including providing flexible work schedules and time off for vaccination and recovery from side effects through our expanded COVID-19 leave plan. All staff, regardless of benefit eligibility, are permitted to use this leave plan for COVID-related absences, as described in prior communications. We continue to offer support with registration or other vaccination resources at the kiosks in the common areas of the dining and facilities departments. Please note that any employee who has questions about COVID-19 vaccines or our policy should contact Human Resources. See below for information about medical and religious exemptions.
Registration and Assistance with Vaccination Appointments
We encourage all who are living on campus or in Vermont who have not done so already to register for vaccination via the Vermont Department of Health portal.
Following are a few registration tips for receiving a vaccination in Vermont:
- The Vermont Department of Health, Kinney Drugs, CVS, and Walgreens all require registration to make an appointment.
- Students who obtain appointments in Vermont but outside of Addison County during the spring semester must secure permission to travel to their appointment. Students wishing to travel outside of Addison County for an appointment should contact Michelle Davis.
- Daily registrations typically open at 8 a.m., but those with accounts may be able to make appointments up to 45 minutes before the published start time.
- Vaccine appointments are now readily available. Some may be able to secure earlier appointments due to cancellations or additional vaccine supply.
- Remember to cancel any duplicate appointments to ensure availability for others.
Medical and Religious Exemptions and Accommodations
Some individuals may have medical conditions or religious beliefs that prevent them from receiving a vaccination. Following are instructions for those who may qualify for medical or religious exemptions or accommodations:
- Undergraduate students who need religious or medical exemptions may complete a request form via the Center for Health and Wellness forms webpage.
- Employees may submit requests for medical and/or religious exemptions by completing the Vaccination Exemption Request Form on the Human Resources forms page.
- Employees who have a medical condition that may require reasonable accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) should complete and submit the ADA job accommodation form to initiate the accommodation process.
Members of the College community who are vaccinated will be required to provide documentation. Below are the requirements for various groups. All faculty, staff, and students should keep the original copy of their vaccination information in a safe place and retain a photo of it on their phone or make a photocopy. In addition:
- All Middlebury College undergraduates must upload to their student health portal a photo of their COVID-19 vaccine record as an “Immunization Record” showing a completed vaccination series. Please direct questions to the Center for Health and Wellness nurse triage line at 802-443-3290.
- All faculty and staff will provide proof of vaccination in accordance with a process that is in development. We will provide more information in the coming weeks.
We have much to look forward to, and we are excited about the prospect of returning to life at Middlebury in many of the ways we all miss, while continuing to keep our community safe. We thank you for your patience and collaboration as we work through this transition together. And as always, thank you for protecting yourselves, one another, and our community. We have remained a vibrant learning community because of you.