COVID-19 Campus Updates - Jan. 7

Posted January 7, 2022 by Wheaton College Parent Engagement
Tags: Parent Announcements

The message below was sent to students on January 7, 2022. It outlines additional temporary COVID-19 mitigations in light of the rapidly spreading Omicron variant.

Dear Students,

We hope that your holiday break has been a time of meaningful rest. We write to provide additional information about the current COVID-19 situation. The new Omicron variant and its rapid transmission present continued challenges for higher education across the nation. We are now contending with twice the number of cases in our region than we had at this time last year.

We plan to stay the course and start in-person learning on time but with a few enhanced COVID mitigations. We will continue with most protocols used throughout the Fall semester. However, we will follow updated CDC and IDPH requirements regarding generally reducing isolation and quarantine periods to five days for COVID-positive cases and close contacts. Please refer to our student FAQs, which are continuously updated to align with public health requirements, for additional information.

We hope that these additional safety steps will last only a few weeks. We will revisit them as soon as conditions allow:

  1. Conservatory students must wear face coverings indoors during instruction.
  2. We are postponing the start of Undergraduate Chapel services for at least the first two weeks. Graduate Chapel will continue as scheduled, given the lower numbers attending and our ability to socially distance in Barrows Auditorium.
  3. We are placing a moratorium on attending large indoor events unrelated to academics. Until further notice, student spectators will need to view athletic events online rather than in person. Home team parents and siblings of current players will be allowed to attend but must wear face coverings and socially distance.
  4. For the first two weeks of the semester, we strongly encourage grab and go dining. If you need to use the dining hall or Stupe seating, please socially distance and prioritize sitting with people in your bubble, such as roommates or teammates. To limit our numbers, we are unable to accommodate faculty, staff, or campus guests in the dining hall until further notice.
  5. We ask students living on campus to avoid leaving campus for non-essential reasons, such as going to restaurants. Students are still welcome to buy groceries, attend off-campus work or internships, volunteer, and attend church services where face coverings are worn and social distancing is feasible.

We will keep you apprised of further changes in the days ahead. To maintain in-person learning this semester, we strongly encourage those who live within four hours of campus to return home for the duration of their isolation to preserve on-campus isolation beds for those who cannot leave campus.

As a reminder, we expect you to take a COVID test with a negative result within 72 hours before returning to campus. Acceptable tests are the rapid antigen (could be at-home) or the PCR. Please do not return to campus if you test positive for COVID. Those struggling to locate a test should contact SHS and email for return instructions. Your professors will receive appropriate notifications of your absence.

We strongly encourage eligible individuals to receive a COVID-19 booster shot as soon as possible. Please remember to wear face coverings indoors, to complete regular surveillance testing if unvaccinated or participating in certain activities (e.g., sports or music ensembles), and to seek medical care from Student Health Services if you experience COVID-19 symptoms.

We can more fully resume our Christ-centered time together as long as everyone works to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

Grace and peace,

COVID-19 Leadership Team