Vermont College Campus Managing COVID-19 Outbreak

St. Michael’s College has seen 80 or so cases in the past week and a half

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A college in Vermont is dealing with an unwanted trick from Halloween weekend: an outbreak of COVID-19.

Wednesday saw expanded COVID-19 testing opportunities on the St. Michael’s College campus in Colchester, for asymptomatic students, faculty, and staff, as the school continues managing an outbreak.

With dozens of St. Mike’s students sickened with COVID recently, NECN affiliate NBC 5 News witnessed groups of friends — from a distance — visiting classmates who had to switch to isolation status.

“I’m not feeling great,” a St. Michael’s student named Ben said on Sunday. “But it's nice that my friends came to see me.”

“I've been Facetiming my friends a lot,” Caitlyn, another student who identified herself to NBC 5 as having tested positive for COVID-19, said Sunday. “These two roommates brought me some soup to cure my COVID.”

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The president of St. Michael’s College, Lorraine Sterritt, wrote in a message to the campus community last weekend saying she was “deeply saddened” to learn the spread appears to have come from unmasked, close contact at Halloween parties.

St. Mike’s boasts a heavily vaccinated campus, so the hope is the 80 or so cases over the past week and a half will stay mild.

On Wednesday, the school reported two new infections on its online COVID-19 dashboard.

Vermont’s health commissioner, Dr. Mark Levine, addressed the campus outbreak Tuesday.

“Their vaccination rate for the campus is in the 95% range,” Levine said. “So I have no doubts that many of them were vaccinated. It sounds a little bit like what happened in Provincetown, Massachusetts, a number of months ago.”

The cluster of COVID-19 cases in Provincetown directly impacted the CDC's new guidance on wearing masks.

While in-person classes are happening, according to an announcement from Sterritt, the president did urge all SMC community members to do their part to protect others. Those steps included wearing masks indoors, getting booster shots, and turning away off-campus guests.

Student parties — what appear to have started this on Halloween weekend — are also suspended through Thanksgiving, according to message to the campus from school administrators posted to the St. Mike’s website.

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