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All faculty, staff, students and visitors are required to conduct self-monitoring of symptoms every day while on campus. Employees and students must be free of ANY symptoms potentially related to COVID-19 to be eligible to report to work or class.
The college is pleased to partner with CoVerified to make managing your role in maintaining a safe campus environment during COVID-19 easier. Through the CoVerified app or web browser you can complete your daily symptom checker, make testing appointments, change testing appointments, receive test results and track your close contacts.
Currently, symptoms known to be associated with COVID-19 include one or more of the following:
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Repeated shaking with chills
- Runny nose or new sinus congestion
- Muscle pain
- Sore throat
- New gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms
- New loss of taste or smell
Testing our community for COVID-19 is a critical component of our reopening plan as health experts consistently state that testing is a key part of any strategy to control the spread of the virus. It is important to detect infections before there has been an opportunity for transmission since a large percentage of transmission occurs from people who do not know they are infected. We have finalized a testing plan for the fall in partnership with the Broad Institute at Harvard and MIT, one of the leading biomedical labs in the country.
The college’s COVID-19 testing plan includes:
- Onboarding testing – upon return to campus, all students, faculty and staff are tested
- Symptomatic testing – testing is available for symptomatic or ill students by appointment at the Norton Medical Center at 508-286-5400; all students with COVID-19 symptoms are tested, isolated and contact tracing is done; Wheaton has a registered nurse on staff who resides at the health center and doctors are also on call after-hours, on weekends and during holidays
- Ongoing testing – community members are tested frequently to identify infected but non-symptomatic individuals with the focus on our highest risk population (residential students, student-facing employees and community members with medical risk factors)
The college’s testing plan includes onboarding testing, symptomatic testing and ongoing and regular testing for everyone on campus. Onboarding testing upon arrival to campus required each student to undertake a 36-48 hour quarantine in one’s dorm room, with that varied length dependent upon the return of the test results. Testing is then ongoing for the course of the semester and we are currently conducting testing of all students twice a week and on-campus employees once or twice a week. A testing week is defined as Monday through Friday and testing appointments must be scheduled in advance using the CoVerified app.
The testing procedure will require students and employees to have their lower anterior nasal cavities swabbed at our on-campus testing site. This test is relatively non-invasive and can even be self-administered. The testing site will be staffed by medical professionals who will also provide other medical support as needed. A contracted courier service will deliver the tests to the Broad lab and we expect to have the results in 36-48 hours. Individuals who test positive will be contacted by a medical professional with instructions on next steps.
All testing will take place at the Old Town Hall Bookstore, 10 Taunton Avenue, Norton, Massachusetts, 02766. Please make sure to wear a mask at all times during your arrival and departure from the testing site. Students and employees will sign an online consent form within the confirmation of their appointment time and they also must submit a signed waiver upon arrival at their scheduled testing time. Copies will be available at the testing site, but you can also download and print the testing consent form prior to arrival.
During the period of time when a student was awaiting their initial test results, students were under a “modified” quarantine in their residence hall room. Results were typically delivered within 48 hours. Residents were permitted to leave their room only to:
- Use the bathroom on their floor or in their house/suite
- For the purposes of picking up food from assigned pick-up locations
- To get essential items from the campus mailroom and bookstore
- Go outside periodically for fresh air
Wheaton also has an on-site nurse seven days a week to help with the support of students who receive positive test results, are symptomatic or had close contact with a confirmed positive case and need to be moved into quarantine or isolation housing. Quarantine and isolation procedures and housing will be in place on campus for those who cannot or choose not to return home. The entirety of Everett Hall will be used for quarantine and isolation. Students may be confined to this isolation or quarantine housing for up to 14 days. Current state guidance indicates that even negative test results do not eliminate the need for quarantine. We have arranged for meal delivery to our students in isolation and quarantine. As a result, it is essential that all residential students be on the college meal plan. If you are granted a rare waiver to the meal plan for medical or religious reasons, you will be asked to isolate or quarantine at home or off-campus, including during that initial onboarding testing.
The college is working with the Norton Board of Health to participate in the Contact Tracing Collaborative (CTC). Any close contacts of individuals who test positive will be contacted for contact tracing and monitoring by the Contact Tracing Collaborative.
Please keep in mind that all notifications and contact tracing outreach and follow up will be conducted via telephone. Calls from the Massachusetts (MA) Contact Tracing Collaborative Team will use the prefix 833 and 857 and your phone will say the call is from “MA COVID Team.” Calls will be made daily between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. Your local health department may use their local phone number to contact you, as well. Therefore, it is critical that all members of the community check their phone and voicemail regularly and answer any calls they may receive from an unknown number.
The college is partnering with Norton Board of Health and Sturdy Hospital to create a COVID-19 public health advisory group, composed of representatives from the medical and public health professions, for the purpose of advising college leadership regarding any COVID-related issues impacting the Fall 2020 semester and beyond.
Norton Medical Center, managed by Sturdy Medical Associates, is the provider for student health needs. Wheaton has a registered nurse on staff who resides at the health center. Telehealth appointments will be available for our students who are symptomatic and diagnostic testing is available. Students who feel sick should contact Norton Medical Center at 508-285-9500. Doctors are also on call after-hours, on weekends and during holidays.
The college’s testing site will be staffed by medical professionals who will also provide other medical support as needed. Wheaton will also have an on-site nurse seven days a week to help with the support of students who receive positive test results, are symptomatic or had close contact with a confirmed positive case and need to be moved into quarantine or isolation housing.