College to implement stricter COVID-19 policies after Thanksgiving

Gabe Miller

The College will require masking almost everywhere on campus from Nov. 27 to Dec. 6 and require students to test for COVID-19 once before they return to campus after Thanksgiving Break and twice after they arrive, according to an all-campus email sent on Nov. 14 by Chief Communications Officer Jim Reische.

All students who are away from campus for at least one night are required to take rapid tests before returning to campus and again on the first and fifth days following their arrival, Reische wrote in his email. Rapid tests will be delivered to student mailboxes before and after Thanksgiving Break. While faculty and staff will not be subject to these requirements, Reische noted that the College recommends they follow them as well. 

By reinstating masking requirements from Nov. 27 to Dec. 6, the College hopes to exercise caution throughout the incubation period for any students who may have been exposed to COVID over the break, Reische wrote in his email.

Similar to previous masking requirements, masks will be required in all classes and labs, all academic and administrative buildings, and dining halls while students are not actively eating or drinking. Masks will not be required in dorms, during sports practices and competitions, during arts rehearsals and performances, or while using fitness facilities. Faculty and guest speakers will be permitted to unmask in classes and at events if they elect to do so and remain distanced.

The recently announced testing policies are similar to the protocols implemented at the beginning of the fall semester, but the masking policies are more stringent. While masking was “strongly encouraged” by the College after a spike in COVID cases at the beginning of the semester, this marks the first time since the spring semester that masking will be required in most settings. In the first month of the fall semester, at least 220 students tested positive before the number of COVID cases significantly declined. 

Reische added that more information regarding test reporting and isolation policies — as well as a potential second College-hosted booster clinic after Thanksgiving — will follow at a later date. While Resiche’s email encourages students to get COVID booster shots if they have not yet, the College has not imposed a requirement for second boosters as it did for first boosters and primary series.

In crafting these policies, Reische stressed in his email that the College is trying to be “a little more strict, but not draconian.” 

“Our goal with these rules is to help get everyone through the last weeks of the semester COVID-free, with the ability to fully enjoy the winter break and the holidays if you celebrate them,” he wrote.