Jack P. Carroll ‘24
94 percent of students, faculty and staff are fully vaccinated or will be by the start of classes, according to an email from Vice President for Student Success and Enrollment Management Joe DiChristina and Chief of Staff Jason Rojas Friday afternoon.
“These rates will increase as students finalize their enrollment plans and employees submit their proof of vaccination,” DiChristina and Rojas said. “As we learn more about booster shots for COVID-19, we will partner with Hartford Healthcare to inform you of our plans to make these available for our community.”
A total of 30 people have been granted medical and religious exemptions. Rojas declined the Tripod’s request for a breakdown of this figure–between students and employees–citing privacy concerns.
DiChristina and Rojas announced that weekly testing for unvaccinated individuals with approved exemptions will take place on Mondays and Tuesdays from 10:00am-4:00pm. Testing will take place in the grey medical trailer stationed between the Ferris parking lot and the baseball stadium.
Surveillance PCR testing for vaccinated students will begin on Sept. 6. Approximately 10-15 percent of this population will be tested each week; students will be scheduled based on the last digit of their Trinity ID number and the first letter of their last name. Students will be notified of their test date via email a week in advance.
Fully vaccinated students who test positive will be required to wear masks for 10 days and undergo an additional medical evaluation in the Health Center; evaluations will determine if isolation or quarantine is necessary. However, fully vaccinated students who are exposed to someone with confirmed COVID-19 as “close contacts” will not need to quarantine after exposure if they are asymptomatic and have no immunocompromised medical issues. These individuals must wear masks for 14 days and obtain a COVID-19 test in the Health Center five days after exposure. Additionally, if the test is negative and they remain asymptomatic, fully vaccinated students will not have to quarantine. If positive, a 10-day isolation period will be mandatory.
Unvaccinated and not fully vaccinated individuals who test positive will be isolated for 10 days. These students must quarantine if they are exposed to someone with COVID-19 as “close contacts.” Unvaccinated students living in a single-occupancy residence can do so there; those in a multi-occupancy residential space will need to move to campus quarantine housing.
DiChristina told the Tripod that Doonesbury Hall will no longer serve as the College’s primary isolation facility and has been returned to student housing. “We are using two private houses for isolation that are immediately adjacent to campus. We used these locations last year as well. Students will be supported via telehealth and meals,” he added.
Trinity’s new testing and quarantine protocols come just days after DiChristina and Rojas announced the College’s COVID-19 Dashboard and campus dining plans for the fall via email Tuesday.
Trinity will continue to maintain a dashboard that reports the number of active cases, the number students in isolation and quarantine, and cumulative data on the campus testing program. The dashboard will be updated twice a week and begin the week of Sept. 8.
Last fall, the College’s decision to update its dashboard twice a week drew criticism from students. At the time, Trinity and Wesleyan were the only schools in the New England Small College Athletics Conference (NESCAC) that declined to update their dashboards daily.
Some of Trinity’s peer NESCAC institutions–including Colby, Tufts, and Hamilton–continue to update their COVID-19 dashboards on a daily basis. Amherst and Williams update their dashboards every weekday; Connecticut College updates its dashboard at least four times a week.
Responding to questions about Trinity’s reporting practices compared to its peer institutions, Rojas told the Tripod “We will adjust the frequency of updates to the dashboard based on conditions on campus. Given our more limited testing protocol, there will be less data to report every week. We will begin the semester with dashboard updates twice a week.”
DiChristina and Rojas also indicated that Trinity will be offering reduced density sit-down dining in Mather Hall and The Cave. Students will need to wear face coverings until they are seated for their meal. When asked about the potential spread of COVID-19 from unmasked students in dining areas, Rojas told the Tripod “Given our overall level of vaccination and other mitigation efforts, we hope to limit the transmission of COVID on campus. If we determine our dining policy is a nexus for transmission we will adjust accordingly including returning to grab and go.”
Responding to questions about fall sports, Rojas told the Tripod that NESCAC Athletic Directors created a revised set of policies and procedures to govern all aspects of practice and competition for the upcoming semester. Rojas also confirmed that NESCAC presidents met this past week to review the proposed policies and procedures: “They provided feedback to the Athletic Directors who will meet again to finalize their recommendations in the coming weeks.” He added, “We do know that all travel will be masked while minimizing interaction with outside parties, other than the opposing institutions, which also have fully vaccinated populations with a handful of exempted students.”