COVID-19 Updates

COVID-19 updates—January 22, 2021

The following message was sent to Faculty and Staff on January 22, 2021.

We appreciate the care and concern that the entire Bennington College community has shown for one another during the pandemic. We know that this has been an incredibly difficult journey but we are hopeful that through our continued efforts on campus and throughout the world, we will begin to see more encouraging news about the pandemic in the near future.

In support of our health and safety efforts, we are writing today to share important information on the COVID-19 vaccine and other key updates.

COVID-19 Vaccine Information

The CDC indicates that to stop this pandemic, we need to use all of our prevention tools. The CDC further indicates that vaccines are one of the most effective tools to protect your health and prevent disease. To learn more, we encourage employees to review the CDC’s Facts about COVID-19 vaccines and/or to reach out to Dr. Randy Anselmo, Medical Director, for additional resources. Please review the following Q&A related to the COVID-19 vaccine and Bennington’s expectations/recommendations for employees.

Do I need to get a COVID-19 vaccine and if so, when?
Yes. In the interest of ensuring a healthy and safe working environment, it is Bennington College’s intention that the COVID-19 vaccine will be mandatory for all employees. We realize that some employees may have reasonable exemptions for not getting vaccinated (e.g., religious or disability reasons) and request that those individuals submit an accommodation request to Human Resources for consideration. We encourage you to discuss any questions or concerns about the vaccine with your primary care provider, as needed.

We ask that employees review the COVID vaccine guidelines and get vaccinated as early as possible—but we realize that there are differences in COVID-19 vaccine distribution programs across states and that vaccines are being rolled out in phases (based on age, medical situation, state law, or other factors). We understand that many employees will not be eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine for several months.

As a reminder, even after you get your vaccine, you will need to keep wearing a mask that covers your nose and mouth, washing your hands often, and staying at least 6 feet away from other people you do not live with. This is safest/healthiest for you and others.

How is the COVID-19 vaccine being distributed?
Vermont’s vaccine distribution program is run by the Vermont Department of Health. While the Vermont Department of Health may request to use space on campus as a point of distribution (POD) site for the community, it is our understanding that there are currently no plans that indicate college health centers will be authorized to distribute the vaccine. If the policies change in the future and it becomes possible for the College to administer the vaccine on campus we will notify the community.

For general vaccine information and eligibility, please review the following resources:

If your residence is in:           COVID-19 Vaccine Resources

Vermont                                    General Information and Eligibility

New York                                  General Information and Eligibility
Note: At this time college faculty teaching in-person are eligible for the vaccine

Massachusetts                         General Information and Eligibility


We understand that employees who receive their healthcare in Vermont, but reside in other states may be eligible to receive their vaccine in Vermont; speak with your healthcare provider for guidance.

Providing the College with proof of vaccination
When you receive your vaccine, please be sure to keep a copy of the vaccine record (photo record is fine) to use as proof of vaccination. Employees will be required to submit this record (or similar evidence/documentation) to Human Resources. Please be sure that you only submit your proof of vaccination and not other/additional medical information.

COVID-19 Variant & Testing
There have been many reports in the news lately about the new COVID variant that is spreading worldwide. Our laboratory vendor, Broad Institute, confirmed that the PCR test the College is using is able to detect both the original COVID virus and the new COVID variant.

Testing on Campus
Beginning February 1, 2021, we will be moving to an ‘unobserved’ test collection process. The testing process will be very similar to how tests are currently being conducted, but the steps will be slightly altered as noted below:

  1. Upon entering the test site, you will blow your nose as usual.
  2. You will move to a table where you will pick up a zip-lock bag containing a test tube, a swab, and instructions.
  3. You will swab your nose and place the swab in the test tube in the usual fashion.
  4. You will then proceed to a registrar's desk where a sticker will be printed and given to you to place on the test tube.
  5. You will then walk to the collection box and drop the test tube in. All done!

Updated State Guidance on Student Social Gatherings
In November we shared that Vermont had issued updated guidance on social gathering related to households. At that time, Vermont colleges and universities were told to interpret households as individual student rooms. We are pleased that this guidance has since been updated and we are now able to designate each student house as a household, allowing students to socialize within their house community. Masks will still be required in all public spaces within student houses as there are still employees that are not part of the house community regularly in these spaces.

Contractor safety
As you know, we inform the community when we have positive cases among our staff, faculty, and students. We do have contractors working on campus and it is our understanding and expectation that all contractors on site are observing appropriate COVID safety precautions. This week we were informed that one employee of the general contractor for the Barn renovation project tested positive for COVID. We understand that any potential close contacts of this individual have been notified. To ensure the utmost safety for our employees, we have asked all B&G staff entering the project site to log their future visits for contact tracing purposes.

For additional guidance or questions, please reach out to your supervisor or Human Resources. Thank you again for your continued support of our campus community. Be well and stay safe.