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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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