Wesleyan Prepares for Students’ Return to Campus This Spring

Olivia DrakeFebruary 1, 20214min

Between Feb. 5–8, Wesleyan will welcome the majority of students back to Middletown for the spring semester.

Students must follow a series of steps to prepare for a safe return to campus, which includes testing and quarantine before and upon arrival, and wearing masks at all times in shared spaces.

Faculty and staff are expected to follow the guidance of the Community Agreement and act in a manner that demonstrates respect and consideration for the health and safety of others.

keep wes safe“After a successful reactivation of campus last fall, we are confident that we’ll be able to offer a vital Wesleyan experience to students this spring while limiting the spread of COVID-19 on campus,” said Wesleyan President Michael Roth ’78. “We recognize that there is real anxiety about the pandemic, and we will continue to promote safety, care, and community. Those things will all go together in the service of education.”

Speaking at a Virtual All-Staff and Faculty Forum on Jan. 28, Roth and Dean of Students and Associate Vice President Rick Culliton, who chairs Wesleyan’s Pandemic Planning Committee, acknowledged that the current public health situation looks quite different compared to the start of the fall 2020 semester. COVID positivity rates, hospitalizations, and deaths are all at much higher levels now, and new variants of the virus create much uncertainty, while the rollout of several highly effective vaccines are providing glimmers of hope.

Culliton described minor differences between the fall 2020 and spring 2021 semesters. As in the fall, anyone on campus must wear a face covering and practice social distancing. Visitors will continue to be restricted from campus, and students will be required to be tested for COVID-19 twice per week, and faculty and staff once or twice per week, depending on the nature of their jobs. Due to the critical role of testing in preventing the spread of COVID, this semester students who miss more than three tests will be immediately required to leave campus and study remotely for the rest of the semester. Quarantine of close contacts is reduced from 14 to 10 days per CDC guidelines, and Wesleyan may further restrict off-campus travel.

Classes will begin virtually on Tuesday, Feb. 9, while students are in the initial quarantine. Classes scheduled to be delivered in-person or through a hybrid approach are expected to switch to that modality on Feb. 22, after the quarantine lifts.

President Roth, who is teaching COL 228: Virtue and Vice in History, Literature, and Philosophy this spring, is choosing to hold classes in person.

“We’ll be in a huge room, spread out, and be wearing masks. It’s hard to teach that way because I can’t gauge student reactions very easily, but there’s a very strong desire to hold classes in person,” Roth said. “Our goal should be to offer our students the best experience given our current conditions so students can thrive.”

Additional information on returning to campus and health and safety protocols is posted on the University’s Keep Wes Safe website.