The following is a letter Dean Whaley and President Roth emailed to students on August 10th.
As our staff makes final preparations for students’ arrival to campus only two weeks from now, we look forward to the start of the semester with a mix of excitement and anxiety. Most of us have longed for the day when we can be together again on campus since we were abruptly forced apart by the pandemic last spring, yet the worsening public health conditions in much of the country are deeply troubling. Thankfully, Connecticut continues to fare well with decreasing COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths—largely thanks to the continued diligence of our state’s residents in following the rules meant to keep the public safe.
Like the state, Wesleyan has its own set of rules and expectations that all students, faculty, and staff will be required to follow. We write today to remind you of these policies and practices, as well as to drive home how serious we will be about enforcing them. As stated in the student Code of Conduct—which all students will be required to read and acknowledge prior to arriving on campus and picking up keys to their residence—students are expected to follow the policies at all times. Non-compliance will result in a student being immediately required to leave campus on an expedited basis in order to protect the health and safety of others.
New public health guidance from the state of Connecticut has also required Wesleyan to change and tighten some of its rules and protocols, especially around the logistics of students’ arrival to campus. These changes were shared in an August 3 message to students. As a reminder:
- Wesleyan is requiring that all students who are able to get tested for COVID prior to leaving home do so. The state recommends that this test be performed within 72 hours of arriving on campus. Students will be asked to upload a record of a negative test result to an app, which we will introduce soon. Any student whose test comes back positive for COVID should not travel to campus, but should seek medical advice from their healthcare provider, recover at home and, if possible, begin the semester remotely. Wesleyan will require documentation from students’ hometown healthcare provider clearing them to return to campus, which must be consistent with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines.
- All students are asked to self-quarantine for two weeks prior to arriving on campus, and especially to avoid large gatherings.
- In accordance with the state’s guidance, only students—not family members—will be permitted to enter student residences during move-in. Therefore, students should pack lightly, and only bring what they can carry to their rooms by themselves. More information on move-in is available on the Residential section of the Reactivating Campus website.
- In order to have an effective quarantine on campus as required by the state, Wesleyan will require all students on campus to quarantine between August 24 and September 7. Students who arrive on campus after August 24 from affected states with high COVID activity or from other countries will still need to meet the state’s 14-day quarantine; thus their quarantine may extend beyond September 7. Students coming from Connecticut and other states not on the list of affected states will only need to quarantine from the day they move in to campus until September 7.
- For this period of quarantine, students will be expected to remain in their residence except to pick up to-go meals and to get a COVID-19 test at the testing site. Students will not be allowed to leave campus at all during these two weeks.
- Students will be tested two times per week, with the first test taking place upon arrival to campus. Once a student receives two negative test results, students living in residence halls will be permitted to expand the remaining time of their quarantine to interactions with others living on their residence hall floor or to similar sized groups of “neighbors,” as designated by the Office of Residential Life.
Following arrival, students will be tested twice weekly for COVID through a self-administered anterior nasal swab, allowing us to detect COVID in the pre-symptomatic or asymptomatic stage and to isolate any infected students and quarantine and test their close contacts (roommates, housemates, intimate partners, and anyone they have been in contact with for 15 minutes or longer at a distance of less than six feet). We will aim to quarantine for 14 days any close contact who may have been exposed before they are contagious (which typically happens two days prior to symptom onset), thereby greatly reduce the spread of the disease.
Any student who tests positive will be isolated for a CDC-recommended period of 10 days from the onset of symptoms, as long as they are improving and have had no fever for 72 hours without the use of fever-reducing medication.
Students are expected to comply with the University’s testing, contact tracing, and quarantine/isolation orders in order to break the chain of contagion, as well to abide by the following measures for the health and safety of the community:
- Wear a mask or face covering at all times, except when sleeping, in one’s room (alone or with a roommate), eating, showering, or brushing teeth. This means masks/face coverings must be worn when a student leaves their room to go into the hallway or restroom, or when a guest is present in their room.
- Maintain a six-foot physical distance from others at all times.
- Avoid groups and gatherings. All meetings and informal gatherings are limited to 25 or fewer people and should take place in venues where physical distancing requirements can be maintained. All such gatherings should take place virtually whenever possible. Most in-person social events and parties are prohibited.
- Comply with reduced capacity limits in classrooms, dining areas, and other campus spaces.
- No visitors are allowed on campus during the semester, including students’ parents and other family members, speakers, performers, admission tours, etc.
- Students are discouraged from traveling outside of the Middletown area (beyond a 25-mile radius from campus), and will be required to self-quarantine upon return to campus as per CDC and state Department of Public Health (DPH) guidelines. Any student who travels beyond the 25-mile radius should notify staff at Davison Health Services who will discuss with them necessary precautions upon their return. Students are expected to comply with COVID precautions (including physical distancing, face coverings, etc.) as directed by local businesses/agencies when interacting with the local community.
- The University will also increase the frequency of cleaning in all campus buildings, including residences. However, students are encouraged to carefully and frequently wash hands and to sanitize living spaces. Wesleyan will provide instructions on cleaning protocols intended to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and expects compliance with these protocols.
- Students will be required to obtain an influenza vaccination prior to January 20, 2021 (unless they have an exemption as permitted by state law).
As we’ve said before, campus life this semester will undoubtedly look very different, but we are confident that with the cooperation of our campus community, we can all enjoy opportunities to learn, grow, and support one another. That said, if understanding these rules as a condition of living and studying on campus causes you to reconsider your plans for the semester, please contact your class dean as soon as possible to make a request to study remotely.
As always, we will be closely monitoring public health conditions and state guidance. If any change in our plans is warranted, we will alert you immediately.
Stay safe, and we look forward to seeing you soon.
Dean Mike Whaley, Vice President for Student Affairs
Michael S. Roth, President