First Middlebury College student tests positive for COVID-19


This image provided by Middlebury College shows a run-through of the COVID-19 testing site set up in Virtue Field House for every student to test for the coronavirus disease when they return to campus. A student who arrived on Wednesday, Aug. 26, tested positive and was put in isolation.

MIDDLEBURY — A Middlebury College student who arrived on campus Wednesday has tested positive for COVID-19 and is currently in isolation.

“At this time, of the 783 students tested on Aug. 26, one received a positive result, 709 tests were negative, 58 are still waiting for results, and 15 will be retested due to insufficient samples,” said Middlebury’s Director of Health Services Mark Peluso in a campus-wide email.

“This is the first positive case of COVID-19 in our campus community for the fall semester, and the student, who was not experiencing symptoms, is now in isolation housing according to our health and safety protocols,” Peluso continued. “We will be in daily contact with the student, monitoring their health and delivering meals, as well as providing other support.”

The college was anticipating some positive cases, Director of Media Relations Sarah Ray told the Independent in an email.

“While we know it is difficult to learn that the virus has affected an individual in our community, this news was expected, given the prevalence of the virus in the United States. Our plans are premised on effective containment and management of the disease on our campus, and we will continue to adhere to our plans as we move ahead.

At this time all students are currently in campus quarantine and are not allowed to leave campus until at least Sept. 15.

“The Vermont Department of Health has been notified and will initiate contact tracing to ensure that anyone who might have been exposed goes immediately into quarantine,” Peluso explained in his email. “To respect the student’s privacy, we will not release any more information about this individual, and, as always, we encourage you to avoid speculation.”

All incoming Middlebury College students are being tested twice upon arrival — on “Day 0” and “Day 7.”

On Aug. 18 and 25, the college conducted “Day 0” and “Day 7” testing on more than 200 students who arrived in the first wave. All of those tests were negative.

The students who arrived on Wednesday will be re-tested on Sept. 2.

In the meantime, more than 1,000 students constituting the third and final wave were set to arrive on campus Friday and undergo their first round of testing.

The third wave will be re-tested on Sept. 4.

After that, the college plans to conduct at least 750 tests per week, focusing at first on employees who must work on campus.

The college maintains a COVID-19 Reporting Dashboard on its website; it can be seen by clicking here. College officials have pledged to post updates by noon and 6 p.m. on each day the college receives test results.

“We understand that even one asymptomatic positive case is concerning, and it underscores the need for the entire campus to continue to follow strict health and safety protocols,” Peluso wrote. “Living through and with a pandemic means continually navigating challenges as a community and honoring our pledge to protect one another’s health and safety. We are committed to fulfilling our educational mission and to reducing inequities by offering both online and in-person instruction and a rewarding residential experience to support our students’ mental health. As always, we are prepared to shift to an all-student room quarantine or to entirely remote learning if that becomes necessary.”

Reach Christopher Ross at christopherr@addisonindependent.com.

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