By Madeline Hope
Director, Health & Wellness Education
This year, returning to campus comes with both joys and challenges. You and your student may have a lot on your minds as this transition begins. It’s normal to feel a variety of emotions in a typical year around this time, add in a changing public health environment and I’d be surprised if anyone is feeling totally calm.
A confident campus return
We know that the overwhelming majority of students will be fully vaccinated when they arrive on campus. This dramatically reduces the chance of transmission of COVID-19. The pre arrival testing process Middlebury requires for students not experiencing symptoms exceeds what the CDC recommends for communities like ours. Our goal in requiring these tests is to further reduce the risk of a student arriving with an asymptomatic infection. Students also have been instructed not to come to campus, regardless of vaccination status or pending testing status, if they are experiencing symptoms or believe they have been recently exposed.
This means there is a very low chance of transmission between roommates or amongst students in general upon arrival. On campus at Middlebury we followed a similar procedure last year, before vaccination was available, and had excellent success!
Throughout the year Middlebury will continue to make decisions based on recommended public health guidance. When there are changes in any community, often fear and worry create confusion and encourage the spread of misinformation. If you notice that beginning to happen in your student’s community, reminding them of these resources can help to reduce panic and encourage thoughtful decision making.
Here are resources which provide consistent, reliable and clear information about behavioral expectations and public health at Middlebury.
This site provides up to date information on how different services on campus are functioning in accordance with current health behavior expectations. Updates are date and time stamped to help understand new changes.
Students also receive routine emails about health behavior expectations and changes to our community from campus officials. All of these emails can be accessed via this communication log on Middlebury’s COVID-19 website.
This site displays current student and staff/faculty cases and the campus alert level.
This site is continuously updated with commonly asked questions about the Fall semester. Visit for answers on a variety of campus life questions.
Here are some ways to help instill confidence in and provide support for your student as they return to (or join) our community!
Express confidence in your student’s ability to make positive choices for their own and their community’s health
As they prepare to join us on campus, remind them of your belief in their ability to make effective decisions to support their health and the health of others around them. What have they done in the past to demonstrate their care for others? Have they been asked to do similar things in other environments? What skills do they have for creative connection with others?
Discuss plans for communication throughout the year
Together explore how you will maintain communication this year. Many young adults have spent more time than ever with family and leaving to be on campus may feel more difficult or confusing than in the past. Talk openly and directly about how you’ll stay in touch and what your student can do if they are feeling confused or need support.
Consider these questions:
What modes will you use to communicate? Email, texting, phone calls, video chats?
How often would each of you like to communicate and how can you find a compromise if your wants are different?
If there is an emergency how will you stay in touch?
Encourage your student to develop and update their evacuation plan
Before coming to campus all students have been asked to update their evacuation plan in BannerWeb. This is a plan we hope students will not have to use during their time here and an important discussion to have before coming to campus. If you have not yet, start a conversation with your student about this and help them to create a plan that is thorough and clear.
Where will your student go if they need to evacuate?
What mode of transportation will they use?
What funds might they need for their travels?
Creating this plan in a time of calm may help to create more confidence if this plan is ever needed. Encourage your student to update this plan if things change.
Remind your student of their strengths
So much of our reflection in the past 18 months has been about loss and adapting to change that sometimes we neglect acknowledging how much skill has been required to remain flexible. Your student may be feeling lots of different emotions as they join us on campus, before they come or even if they’re already here take some time to acknowledge the strengths and resilience you’ve seen in them.
Our community has been vibrant and resilient during COVID-19. We have been in awe of the resilience, creativity and flexibility our young adults have used to persevere through difficulty and put collective well-being and safety first. I imagine you also have witnessed your student do exceptional things like this in this time.
Families are important partners in helping our young adults to feel confident and courageous at Middlebury! Thank you for your commitment to Midd and we look forward to collaborating.
This article was published in August 2021 as students were beginning to return to campus. Please refer to the Middlebury Campus Status Page (linked above in this article) for up to date information about COVID-19 and health behavior expectations.
Campus Well Family – Campus Well Family is a section of our online health and well-being magazine written specifically for families of Middlebury students. Check back consistently for resources on how to support your student.
4 ways to help your student feel confident and prepared for quarantine or isolation with COVID-19 – We know preparing for quarantine and isolation can be challenging for young folks. Read more about how to support your student if they are asked to quarantine or isolate at any time this year.