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Middlebury College Moves Its 99% Vaccinated Students to Remote Format Following COVID-19 Outbreak

The school announced it has nearly 50 active COVID cases among students and staff

An almost completely vaccinated liberal arts college in Vermont shuttered its doors after an outbreak of COVID-19 swept through its campus.

As of 5:30 p.m. today, we received confirmation of 34 new cases of COVID-19 on campus, for a total of 49 active student cases and one active employee case. Contact tracing is underway,” the school said in a Dec. 9 statement. “Given the timing of this increase, coinciding with the end of the fall semester and imminent student departures, we have decided to move immediately to remote instruction and postpone in-person events.”

Classes scheduled for the next day and any in-person event were canceled. Impending final exams will be held online. “Grab-and-go” meals were provided as the dining halls closed. Students who could leave campus immediately were encouraged to do so.

Middlebury College required all students and staff members to be fully vaccinated at the start of the fall semester. The school reports that it has a 99% vaccination rate.

Just under 2,900 students attend Middlebury. Asymptomatic students are allowed to leave campus and wait for their COVID-19 results, whereas symptomatic students are not allowed to leave campus until they have a negative test.

“While many of the new cases we have identified appear to be connected, occurring in clusters among people who socialize together, an increase in the prevalence of COVID-19 increases the likelihood of broader community transmission,” school officials said.

The announcement notes that “the risk of adverse health outcomes from the Delta variant is low,” making no mention of the Omicron variant.

In an email to the Rutland Herald, Middlebury representative Sarah Ray said the spike in cases was a recent development and that before Dec. 6 there were only 25 cases all semester — a fact she attributed to student compliance with COVID protocols.

“The high prevalence of COVID-19 in Vermont right now and the fact that the delta variant is very contagious may have contributed as well,” she wrote.

“Vermont has a high vaccination rate. Some 84% of the state’s population of 624,000 has received at least one shot,” reports Forbes. “Public health statistics show that Addison County, where Middlebury is situated, has an average case positivity rate of 4% over the 14 days leading up to December 9. There were 410-800 new cases per 100,000 people between November 18 and December 1.”

Middlebury’s spring semester begins on Jan. 6. The school has not said if students would be permitted to return for in-person instruction at that time.

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8 responses to “Middlebury College Moves Its 99% Vaccinated Students to Remote Format Following COVID-19 Outbreak”

  1. Maiafay says:

    Hospital is the last place you want to go when you have covid. Their protocols kill you.

  2. prcntm says:

    Also it just hit me looking at the numbers from my first comment: This college boasts a 99% vaccination rate yet 1.7145% of their student population contracted COVID-19 within 2 weeks. If all 28.58 (29 if we’re rounding up) of their non-vaccinated students aren’t in that group of 34 new cases, it calls into question the likelihood of a breakthrough case as CRISPYBACON was so kind to point out.

  3. prcntm says:

    Reply to Garce:

    Fair point on the voluntary nature of the quarantine, but at some point the school has to take actions that protect its students. It’s why we organize in general in the first place.

    So middle ground proposition:
    The school issues a statement saying that classes will remain open and online attendance will be available, but those students who have contracted COVID-19 must either quarantine in the on campus medical facility (assuming there is one), or vacate the campus until such time as they can provide a negative test. Of those infected students who are quarantining on campus, they can opt to leave campus at any time, but will not be allowed to return unless a negative test can be provided. Those who wish to remain in the in-person classes are allowed, those who would prefer not to chance it don’t miss class with the online attendance, and even those students who are quarantining/off-campus can continue to learn via the online attendance if COVID-19 isn’t kicking them too hard. The only limitation imposed is on the sick people and they aren’t trapped on campus waiting for a mandatory quarantine to end.

    This is the system that was used in every facility I spent significant time in for literally my entire life prior to COVID-19 and it saddens me that we as a society have managed to completely abandon it in less than 2 years.

    Also I heard similar reports of people’s immune systems being compromised and more vulnerable to common bugs due to the lockdowns not allowing us to properly build up a herd immunity to them. I do live near a city, but I’m far enough away from it that I was still allowed to walk around my neighborhood. Weather-related migraines aside, I haven’t been sick since this whole mess started “15 days to slow the spread” ago. A personal achievement given my already crappy immune system.

  4. CrispyBacon says:

    Break through cases are super rare guys. C’mon, we’re super serial.

  5. exactly34 says:

    (I live here) Vermont is so fucked and fucked up.

  6. Garce says:

    Reply to PRCNTM:

    So lock students away in a non residential building on campus until they are properly identifying and have adequate medical statistics and only after the authorities conclude that they are not a threat are they allowed to leave?

    How about not doing any of that and let those who are scared of the virus run from it while those who are not retain their normal lives. These constant lockdowns have resulted in lower human to human interactions and has lead to the lowered transmission of diseases, not just covid. There was an article about a college fearing a deadly strain of the common cold or the flu this year because of this phenomenon. People need interaction to gain actual immunity to diseases otherwise its like raising a child in a hermeitcally sealed bubble and as soon as they step out, they catch every disease imaginable and suffer for it.

    We were all forced into this metaphorical health bubble, but those who stay in it longer are more likely to suffer harsher effects when they do step out. Gotta rip the bandaid off sometime and the sooner the better.

  7. prcntm says:

    2,858 students. 49 active cases, 34 recently discovered. 1.7145% of the student body contracted COVID-19; 1.1896% in the last 2 weeks. This prompted the school to shutter all in person events including eating. Don’t get me wrong 34 new cases within 2 weeks is significant, and a much better interpretation of the word “outbreak” than my state’s interpretation of “2 or more cases in the same workplace”. But taking such drastic action, especially when it is admitted that the positive cases are in groups that often socialize together, screams of fear mongering. Just quarantine the students affected away from the others (NOT A DORMITORY) and let classes continue. There’s no need for the sweeping reaction. Not yet at least.

  8. HerrDoktor says:

    “symptomatic students are not allowed to leave campus until they have a negative test.”
    LOL, imprison them? Why not send them to a hospital?