Sammi Bray ’25
Students, faculty, and staff will still be required to wear masks in all instructional spaces and at large indoor events during the upcoming summer session, shared Vice President for Student Success and Enrollment Management Joe DiChristina and Chief Financial Officer Dan Hitchell in an email to the community on Thursday, May 26.
“We are seeing reports of elevated COVID levels in our region as we pivot to the summer months. As a result, we plan to maintain our current COVID-related protocols,” the email explains.
The current protocols require masks in all classroom, lab, studio, and instructional spaces during scheduled classes. Masks are also required in all healthcares facilities, indoor athletic and performance arts events, gatherings with external audiences, any space on campus where signage indicates masking is required, and individual offices and group meetings when requested by the host or participants.
DiChristina and Hitchell told the Tripod via email that the College had not decided on whether it will maintain the mask mandate for the fall semester. “We will watch local, national, and regional data and decide as we get closer to the start of the semester,” they stated.
The College will also discontinue the COVID-19 dashboard over the summer. “We will continue to monitor the presence of COVID on campus and communicate to the community as needed,” wrote DiChristina and Hitchell.
DiChristina and Hitchell told the Tripod that the dashboard has become a “less effective communication tool for the presence of covid on campus.” They cited the fewer number of students and employees on campus at any given time during the summer. DiChristina and Hitchell also confirmed that the College did not consult with members of the community when deciding to end the Dashboard. “We know that providing information to our community is important and we will do this via community messages when needed,” stated DiChristina and Hitchell.
Trinity joins some of its peer institutions in the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) which have also discontinued or paused dashboard reporting for the summer. Colby recently announced that it ended on-campus testing and its online dashboard on Friday, May 20 citing “a much lower campus population over the summer, greatly reduced demand for testing, and widespread availability of rapid-antigen tests.” Hamilton paused dashboard reporting for the summer on Thursday, May 19, according to the College’s website.
Prior to its termination, Trinity’s dashboard came under scrutiny during a faculty governance meeting in April. One faculty member emphasized that, at the time, the dashboard only reflected the total number of people who were symptomatic and decided to self-report as Trinity’s mandatory surveillance testing program had been discontinued. Chair of the Board of Trustees Lisa Bisaccia ’78, who was present at the meeting, responded to these concerns by stating that the College will act appropriately should there be an uptick in cases. “We have people who are reasonable, thoughtful, and listen to science,” said Bisaccia.
The Health Center will be open for students on campus Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Guest and visitors on campus will be required to show proof of vaccination before entering indoor spaces.
Plans remain less certain for the fall semester. “We cannot predict how variants will evolve in the future nor can we predict the number of positive cases in the community come fall,” said DiChristina and Hitchell in their email. “Should public health conditions change, we will consult our partners at Hartford Healthcare in order to make the most prudent decisions moving forward.”
The College will require all new students, transfer students, and employees to be vaccinated with one booster shot prior to arrival in the fall. At this time, there is no requirement for an additional booster shot. Students will also be required to obtain a negative COVID test taken within 24 hours of coming to campus.
DiChristina and Hitchell told the Tripod that the College is waiting on guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Hartford Healthcare before deciding on an additional booster shot requirement. “We will most likely decide by early July,” said DiChristina and Hitchell.
Symptomatic testing will continue to be offered throughout the fall semester, and a small number of beds will be designated for students requiring space for isolation. The College does not anticipate that it will be conducting surveillance testing.
“The majority of our community is fully vaccinated and boosted and, unless we see that there is higher severity of illness within our population, relying on rapid testing of symptomatic individuals along with those who believe they have been exposed seems to be a good indicator of the presence of covid on campus,” DiChristina and Hitchell told the Tripod when explaining the College’s decision to move away from surveillance testing. They indicated that the College consulted with medical advisors at Hartford Healthcare before transitioning away from surveillance testing in the spring.
This article was updated on Wednesday, June 1 to include comment from DiChristina and Hitchell.