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New COVID-19 Protocols

Posted September 10, 2021 by Wheaton College Parent Engagement
Tags: Parent Announcements

Dear Parents, 

We have sent the following message to students today announcing adaptations to our COVID-Safe protocols.

Grace and peace,

COVID-19 Leadership Team


Dear Students,

The number of COVID-19 cases has risen sharply among our students during the past week, with a cumulative total of more than 90 students in quarantine or isolation. This increase has diminished the number of available isolation beds on campus to less than 35 percent capacity, strained our personnel, and caused concern among students, employees, and parents.

We are grateful that our surveillance testing has successfully identified positive cases. We are grateful also for students who are vigilantly self-reporting their symptoms. The overall number of COVID cases, however, requires that we adapt our protocols to reduce the spread and do all we can to avoid a pivot to shelter-in-place, remote learning, and reduction of on-campus activities.

We are hopeful that if students follow the protocols outlined below — particularly wearing face coverings properly when indoors — the changes will successfully avoid more serious measures. Soon we will announce additional changes to Chapel. We will revisit all of these adaptations at the end of September to consider if we are able to return to previous protocols.

  • Surveillance testing
    • All unvaccinated undergraduate students will begin testing twice a week, effective September 13. Testing will be Mondays and Thursdays. Per the CDC, when positive for COVID-19, unvaccinated individuals carry a higher viral load for a longer period of time than those who are vaccinated. More than 75% of our positive cases on campus are students who are not vaccinated. Additionally, we have good measures in place to test symptomatic vaccinated students, including those who are close contacts.
  • Face Coverings
    • Students must wear face coverings (over nose and mouth) at all times while indoors, except while eating, in their room with their roommates, or on the residence hall floor on which they live. Students visiting floors, campus apartments, and houses that are not their own must wear a face covering.
    • While we expect students to voluntarily comply with these expectations, staff working in buildings with gathering areas will be reminding students if face coverings are not being worn properly. Students may be dismissed with an unexcused absence if a face covering is not worn properly in class.
  • Singing
    • Starting September 15, singing will occur outdoors at the conclusion of shortened undergraduate chapel services, weather permitting.
    • Graduate chapel participants will be asked to increase social distance so as to be able to continue singing while wearing a face covering.
    • Conservatory vocalists will wear face coverings while singing indoors.
    • Until further notice, singing will not be allowed at non-instructional indoor events.
  • Campus Events
    • Non-instructional indoor events (e.g., dances, concerts, etc.) with more than 100 people must be approved by Risk Management to ensure that sufficient COVID-safety measures are in place. Requests for review of events with more than 100 attendees should be sent to legal.and.risk@wheaton.edu.
  • Dining Hall
    • We encourage students to use the grab-and-go option to eat outside in an effort to decrease the number of people in the dining hall.

If the number of students testing positive results in the need to use a high percentage of our East Campus housing capacity, we will consider additional adjustments across a variety of campus environments.

We are hopeful that these adjusted COVID-Safe measures will help us continue in-person classes and events. Please join us in praying for God’s protection on our life together on campus. We recognize both our dependence on His provision and our need to follow practices needed to continue living, studying, worshiping, and supporting each other in a Christ-honoring community.

Grace and peace,

COVID-19 Leadership Team