Info for MFAW Students

The Bennington Writing Seminars June residency will be held on-campus June 2-12, 2022. Please see the following updates regarding COVID-19 protocols specifically for the MFA community.

Please direct all questions to the COVID task force at covid@bennington.edu.

May 16, 2022 | Message to the MFAW Community from Provost Maurice Hall

Dear MFA Community:

Below you will find the COVID guidelines and protocols, which we outline here in advance of the June on-campus residency (June 2-12, 2022). We look forward to welcoming the Writing Seminars back to campus, while continuing to prioritize the health and safety of our entire community amid an ever-changing pandemic.

Please bookmark the COVID-19 Updates and Information site (see the MFA tab) and check back regularly for updates as this policy will be revisited and revised based on CDC guidance.

Due to a recent upsurge in COVID-19 cases in Vermont and in Bennington County, the College has updated its Visitor and Alumni attendance policy for the MFA June residency.

VISITOR AND ALUMNI POLICY (Updated)

In light of the recent upsurge in COVID cases, campus will be closed to visitors and alumni during the residency. All academic classes and the nightly reading series will be for enrolled students and those in residence on campus only.

At this time, alumni (except those in residence) may not attend any portion of the residency including lectures, master classes, or evening readings. Evening readings will be streamed online. 

REQUIRED STEPS PRIOR TO ARRIVAL

Please take a moment to review the mandatory steps needed for you to return to campus. In order to receive your registration packet and attend the residency, you must have paid your tuition bill in full, and you must sign the Commitment to Shared Responsibility and upload your vaccination card.

Commitment to Shared Responsibility

In order to support a culture of safety, responsibility, and accountability, we will require that all members of the community (students, staff, and faculty) sign a Commitment to Shared Responsibility.

Vaccination and booster reporting for MFA students

  • MFA students must be up to date on COVID vaccination (primary series + booster(s) if eligible), to attend the residency. Students must submit their documentation by Monday, May 23, 2022—one week prior to the residency that begins on June 2, 2022.
  • If you wish to request an exemption from the vaccination based on a medical contraindication or religious reason, reach out to Health Services and your request will be reviewed.
  • We strongly encourage those who are eligible for a second vaccination booster to receive one prior to the June residency.  

Vaccination and boosting for faculty and staff

  • Employees are required to get a booster within 30 days of their eligibility date. Please upload proof of booster vaccination to ADP.

PRE-ARRIVAL AND TESTING

All members of the MFA Community must do pre-arrival testing. All participants must produce one negative PCR or two negative Rapid Antigen Tests (taken 24-48 hours apart) within 72 hours prior to arrival. At-home tests are acceptable. Anyone who has tested positive for COVID within 90 days of the beginning of the residency should present documentation of their previous positive COVID test; these individuals are only required to produce one negative Rapid Antigen test prior to arrival. Please upload documentation (photo) of your negative test(s) by May 30 using this form monitored by Health Services.

ARE THERE TRAVEL RESTRICTIONS?

We recommend that you adhere to the CDC guidance on travel recommendations domestically and internationally, but travel is not restricted. Before you travel, be sure to check country-specific requirements related to COVID. We strongly recommend you wear a mask during travel to ensure the public health of our campus community.

ON-CAMPUS TESTING

The College is no longer requiring surveillance testing. While on campus, if you develop symptoms (fever, sore throat, chills, loss of smell or taste, GI complaints, etc.), we ask that you self-test. The College will provide Rapid Antigen Tests that will be available at the Campus Safety booth, which is open and staffed 24 hours a day. The tests are located just inside the door. Please take only what is needed. Again, these tests are only for those with symptoms—do not test yourself just out of curiosity.

For MFA community members with symptoms: If you are having symptoms, including fatigue, a runny nose, a cough, loss of taste of smell, or a sore throat:

  • Do not assume that it is not COVID until you have produced a negative test result.
  • If you are ill, do not attend any classes, workshops, social events, etc. until COVID has been ruled out. Also, if you are ill, please do not enter the dining hall.  
  • If you are sick with COVID, please notify writing@bennington.edu immediately and then your teacher to arrange for a Zoom link to your workshop, if necessary.
  • Health Services will be available on campus during the residency. 

MASKING

  • Masking indoors is required in any shared spaces, including in the houses.
  • We note that the CDC is encouraging people to wear higher-quality masks, like KN95s masks or surgical masks, if possible.
  • Bring enough masks to cover your time here at the residency.
  • Cloth or disposable masks should fit securely above the nose and below the chin. Bandanas, balaclavas, and other loose fitting face coverings (ex: scarves) are not acceptable.
  • Masking outdoors is optional. You may also remove your mask in private single-occupancy rooms/offices. 

WHAT IF A PERSON TESTS POSITIVE FOR COVID? 

If a person tests positive, we will follow the new guidelines from the Vermont Department of Health:

  • Members of the MFA community who test positive will be expected to isolate themselves in their room for five days following the positive test result. (Your test-day is day 0.)
  • Email writing@bennington.edu immediately with your name, dorm name, room number, and any dietary restrictions you have.
  • You can be released if you test negative with antigen tests on days 4 and 5 and are asymptomatic. 
  • You can leave isolation after day 5 if your symptoms have improved AND you have had no fever for at least 24 hours without the use of medicine that reduces fevers.

DURING ISOLATION

  • Students in isolation (i.e., who have COVID) will have food delivered by a staff member or a volunteer.
  • Students will be able to access their workshop via Zoom if they have COVID and feel well enough to attend. 
  • Students will need to communicate with their teacher directly if they require Zoom access for their workshop. 

General Prevention Measures

The College encourages all community members to take measures to protect themselves to prevent the spread of these viruses as outlined below:

Both the influenza virus and the novel coronavirus have similar recommendations for prevention and protection:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. 
  • If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home and away from public places when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash. If you don’t have a tissue, cough down into your elbow, and never into your hand.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.

COMMENCEMENT (Visitor and guest policy updated)

Commencement visitors will be limited to the families of the June 2022 graduating class only. Alumni who graduated during the virtual residencies who have been invited back may take part in Commencement and the reception, but are not allowed to bring guests or visitors. The campus will be closed to all other visitors and alumni. 

Visitors/family of the June 2022 class must be fully vaccinated/boostered and fill out the visitor form—at least 24 hours before they arrive on campus. All visitors must wear a mask when indoors and when outdoors, but unable to maintain social distancing while on campus. 

Visitors/families of the June 2022 class are allowed in public outdoor spaces on Bennington College’s campus, including walking trails. 

Visitors are not allowed in workshops, classes, lectures, or faculty readings (evening readings will be streamed online). These events are for enrolled students only. 

This policy will be revisited and revised based on CDC guidance.

Please direct all questions about COVID policies to the COVID task force at covid@bennington.edu

The COVID Task Force

The COVID Task Force has been working throughout the pandemic to monitor, assess, and adjust our policies to ensure the safety of our students, faculty, and staff. The Task Force is a team of committed staff and administrators co-chaired by Alison (Ali) Tartaglia, DrPH, our Director of Student Health Promotion and resident public health expert, and Dr. Randy Anselmo, Director of Health Services. Please know that like other college campuses throughout the nation, we anticipate that Omicron will have a continued impact on our community, and with this in mind, we will continue to update a number of health and safety protocols in anticipation of your arrival.

April 2, 2022 | Message to the MFAW Community from Provost Maurice Hall

Dear MFA Community:

I write to you today with initial information regarding our current COVID protocols in advance of the June on-campus residency (June 2-12, 2022.) We look forward to welcoming our MFA students and faculty back to campus, while continuing to prioritize the health and safety of our entire community amid an ever-changing pandemic.

Plans for arrival testing and/or ongoing testing will be determined in the coming months and in consultation with campus health services, CDC guidelines, and state policy. Please bookmark the COVID-19 Updates and Information site and check back regularly for updates as this policy will be revisited and revised based on CDC guidance.

Please direct all questions to the COVID task force at covid@bennington.edu

The COVID Task Force

The COVID Task Force has been working throughout the pandemic to monitor, assess and adjust our policies to ensure the safety of our students, faculty and staff. The Task Force is a team of committed staff and administrators co-chaired by Alison (Ali) Tartaglia, DrPH, our Director of Student Health Promotion and resident public health expert, and Dr. Randy Anselmo, Director of Health Services. Please know that like other college campuses throughout the nation, we do anticipate that Omicron will have a continued impact on our community, and with this in mind, we will continue to update a number of health and safety protocols in anticipation of your arrival. Preliminary procedures are outlined below. Keep in mind these will change as the situation changes. 

Please take a moment to review the initial mandatory steps needed for you to return to campus:

Commitment of Shared Responsibility

In order to support a culture of safety, responsibility, and accountability, we will require that all members of the community (students, staff, and faculty) sign a Commitment to Shared Responsibility. 

Vaccination and booster reporting for MFA students

  • MFA students must be up to date on COVID vaccination (primary series + booster if eligible), to attend the residency. Students must submit their documentation by Monday May 16, 2022–two weeks prior to the residency that begins on June 2, 2022
  • If you wish to request an exemption from the vaccination based on a medical contraindication or religious reason, reach out to Health Services and your request will be reviewed.
  • If anyone vaccinated or unvaccinated has any symptoms of COVID-19, they should isolate in their room and  immediately contact Ali Tartaglia in Student Life for further instructions. 

Vaccination and boosting for faculty and staff

  • Employees are required to get a booster within 30 days of their eligibility date. Please upload proof of booster vaccination to ADP.

Masks

If a student tests positive

COVID positive cases

  • At this time, students who test positive will be expected to isolate until Day 5, when they can be released if they are asymptomatic. Students will receive direction from Student Life about where they will isolate, and about food delivery.
     
  • They will be able to access their workshop via Zoom. Students will need to communicate with their teacher directly if they require Zoom access for their workshop.
     
  • If they continue to have symptoms, they will continue to isolate up to 10 days.

Close contacts

  • While the State of Vermont has discontinued for students, the College currently provides information regarding how to contact trace and information about what to share with those considered close contacts of those who are identified as positive. 
  • Close contacts who are up to date on vaccination will not be required to quarantine or test.
  • People who are not up to date on vaccination should observe careful precautions and be tested on Day 5.

Daily symptom reporting

At the moment, fully vaccinated students will not be required to do daily symptom reporting during the Spring 2022 term. Those who are not-yet-fully-vaccinated or who have exemptions should continue to do daily reporting of symptoms.

Visitor Policy

To enter into a campus building, visitors need to be fully vaccinated/boostered and to fill out the visitor form—at least 24 hours before they arrive on campus. All visitors should wear a mask when indoors and when outdoors but unable to maintain social distancing at all times while on campus. 

Visitors are allowed in public outdoor spaces on Bennington College’s campus, including walking trails. Visitors are not allowed in workshops, classes or lectures. These events are for enrolled students only. 

This policy will be revisited and revised based on CDC guidance.

Sincerely,

Maurice Hall

Provost