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Dear students and families,

We are looking forward to welcoming you to campus next month, and want to provide an update on our plans for student arrivals. We appreciate your patience as we navigate this evolving situation.

Given the recent spikes in COVID-19 infections across the U.S., we have made some important changes to our health and safety protocols. The most significant changes are the result of the emergence of high-incidence states whose rates of infection have increased significantly. These states include: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nevada, South Carolina, Texas, and Washington (Seattle only).

In response, we have adjusted our approach and will be asking students from high-incidence states to follow additional health and safety protocols before moving onto campus. We will implement a phased move-in process during which students from these states will come to Massachusetts earlier to allow them time to be tested and quarantined. In addition, we will be asking those students to take a home test, which Wellesley will provide, before they travel to campus. We are undertaking these additional measures to reduce the possibility of positive cases so that we can enjoy a successful start to the new academic year.

Earlier today, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker issued an executive order with new requirements for anyone travelling to Massachusetts. Under this executive order, anyone travelling to Massachusetts from a state other than low-incidence states (MA, CT, HI, RI, NH, NJ, ME, NY, or VT) will need to fill out a travel form, and will either need to quarantine for 14 days upon arrival or submit negative test results no more than 72 hours old. This guidance means that, because Wellesley is testing all students upon arrival, students will not need to complete a 14-day quarantine. It also means that any parent travelling to campus will need to have a negative test result within 72 hours of arrival in Massachusetts or will need to quarantine.

Health and safety for students from high-incidence states
Home testing:
In addition to asking all students to self-quarantine before they leave home, we are planning a home test option that students from high-incidence states would take before travelling to campus. This test would be a self-administered, high-quality PCR test that students would send to a lab via FedEx. Wellesley College will cover the cost of this test, including shipping. Details to follow.

Testing and three-day hotel quarantine before campus move-in:
When students from high-incidence states arrive, Wellesley staff will meet them at a hotel near campus, where they will be tested and able to quarantine in a room with a private bath. The hotel will be reserved for Wellesley students, and members of our Residence Life staff will be on hand to greet and live with them during their stay. Wellesley will provide meals at the hotel and cover all hotel costs.

Here is a detailed description of the health and safety protocols:

Students from high-incidence states:

  • Two-week self-quarantine before leaving home. Take an at-home test a few days prior to traveling to campus. (This test will be distributed by the College, and we will write again with further details once its availability is confirmed.) Students who test positive will remain at home and self-isolate for a total of 20 days* before being cleared for travel to campus (per CDC guidance). All students must arrive by September 4 in order to be able to continue on campus. If a student’s isolation period would require that they stay home beyond September 4, the student may need to change from on-campus to remote instruction for the term.
  • Students who test negative will travel to a local hotel to undergo entry testing and a second round of testing on day three. After test results return on day four, this cohort of students will move into the residence halls.
  • Students who test positive will isolate in designated spaces on campus.
  • All students will continue to be tested every two to three days for the first two weeks they are on campus, with weekly testing thereafter.

Students from other states:

  • Two-week self-quarantine before traveling to campus.
  • Travel to Wellesley and undergo testing upon arrival.
  • Students will quarantine in residence halls on day one and receive test results the afternoon of day two. Students who test positive will isolate in designated spaces on campus.
  • All students will continue to be tested every two to three days for the first two weeks they are on campus, with weekly testing thereafter.

Please note: All testing for COVID-19 will be PCR and samples taken from the anterior nasal passages.

Below is a move-in schedule with group assignments based on class year and home state. International students who are already in the United States should follow the schedule below based on whether the states they are coming from are high incidence or lower incidence. Students traveling from another country should follow the schedule below according to class year. Move-in times can be scheduled from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. EDT.

Group 1: New students and designated student leaders* from high-incidence states

Arrival Date Arrival Location Campus Move-In Date
August 17 Hotel Tested at hotel August 17 and 20; move into residence halls August 21.

Group 2: Returning students from high-incidence states

Arrival Date Arrival Location Campus Move-In Date
August 23 Hotel Tested at hotel August 23 and 26; move into residence halls August 27.

Group 3: Designated student leaders* from lower-incidence states

Arrival Date Arrival Location Campus Move-In Date
August 24 Wellesley College campus Tested on campus August 24 and move into residence halls. Quarantine for one day in rooms.

Group 4: Sophomores from lower-incidence states

Arrival Date Arrival Location Campus Move-In Date
August 25 Wellesley College campus Tested on campus August 25 and move into residence halls. Quarantine for one day in rooms.

Group 5: New students from lower-incidence states

Arrival Date Arrival Location Campus Move-In Date
August 26 Wellesley College campus Tested on campus August 26 and move into residence halls. Quarantine for one day in rooms.

Group 6: Juniors and seniors from lower-incidence states

Arrival Date Arrival Location Campus Move-In Date
August 28 Wellesley College campus Tested on campus August 28 and move into residence halls. Quarantine for one day in rooms.

*Student leaders should confirm move-in dates with their departments.

Guidelines for family members of students
In order to take care of our students and reduce the risk of infection, we need to limit the number of people on campus during move-in. To the greatest extent possible, we ask that parents—especially those from high-incidence states—consider allowing their students to travel to campus unaccompanied.

Per the newly released guidance from the Commonwealth, any person traveling from a state other than MA, CT, HI, RI, NH, NJ, ME, NY, or VT, will need to be tested for COVID-19 within 72 hours before travelling to Massachusetts and be able to show documentation of a negative result.
Only students and Wellesley staff will be allowed in the residence halls. We respectfully ask that families limit the number of members who come to campus.

Pre-ship belongings to streamline move-in
Students should plan to travel light and ship their belongings in advance.

  • To streamline the move-in process, we ask that students ship their belongings to Wellesley. Students can ship from home or order online up to four boxes to be delivered to their rooms before move-in.
  • Students should ship boxes to be delivered to campus between August 1 and August 15. Items shipped before August 1 may be returned to sender, and items shipped after August 15 may not be received in time for in-room placement.
  • Belongings left in boxes here last spring will be delivered to students’ new rooms prior to their arrival.
  • Please pack light and please bring a “COVID bag” (a small bag that includes change of clothes, toiletries, and books in the event that you need to isolate or quarantine).

I hope that you are able to attend our webinar tomorrow, July 25 at 1 p.m. EDT, during which we will answer your questions about the new health and safety protocols I have shared in this email. We ask that you please pre-register for the webinar, and we will post a recording on our fall planning website following the session for those who are unable to attend.

All my best,

Paula A. Johnson
President

*Please note: An earlier version of this blog post made reference to 10 days of isolation for students who test positive with the at-home test. CDC guidance now recommends a total of 20 days, and this blog post has been updated to reflect that change. The date by which students must arrive to campus in order to continue as on-campus for the term has also been added.