Safety Expectations in the Residence Halls

We know that most students are eager to resume or begin the life of a college student. We will do everything in our power to provide a safe environment for living, learning, and personal growth, but we cannot eliminate all risks.

When returning to campus, it will be crucial for all students, faculty, and staff to abide by an extensive set of safety and behavioral protocols established to protect themselves and others. We have done our best to anticipate the most likely scenarios.

Community Compliance

For the protection of the entire community, especially members of the community where exposure to COVID-19 poses a higher risk of severe symptoms or death, we expect all members of the community to comply with the guidelines related to COVID-19.

Due to the nature of a residential community as an independent living environment that is largely self-directed, the community is expected to comply with all directives provided by the College related to COVID-19 or otherwise. The College will make every reasonable effort to address violations or other deviations from these policies, but cannot reasonably account for the behavior and actions of members of the community at all times.

Health Requirements

All residents must submit up-to-date health forms prior to arrival. This includes routine immunization information and past and current exposure to COVID-19, if any.  Students may be required to be tested for COVID-19 when they arrive and before they are permitted to live on campus and periodically during the academic term.

We recommend that students self-isolate for at least 14 days prior to returning to campus to minimize the risk of exposure to COVID-19 prior to arrival. Any student exhibiting symptoms associated with COVID-19, who has recently been exposed to COVID-19, or who has been recently diagnosed with COVID-19 without a subsequent negative test will not be permitted into the residence halls.

Testing our community for COVID-19 is a critical component of our reopening plan. 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. The college’s testing plan includes:

  • Onboarding testing – upon return to campus, all students, faculty and staff are tested
  • Symptomatic testing – community members with COVID-19 symptoms are tested, isolated and contact tracing is done
  • 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)

Health experts consistently state that testing is a key part of any strategy to control the spread of the virus. 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.

Quarantine/Isolation Policy

Once admitted into the Residential Community, any student who is subsequently diagnosed with COVID-19, or who is potentially exposed to an individual who has COVID-19 will be required to move to a separate quarantine or isolation space on campus. The college will designate specific residential spaces for use by students who have been directed to isolate or quarantine. Students may also return home or to another off-campus location for this duration of their isolation or quarantine. The college has developed a comprehensive protocol for isolation and quarantine housing that includes staffing to support students in the transition to and while in isolation and quarantine, including meal delivery and cleaning procedures.

Required quarantine or isolation of a student does not qualify the student for a discount or refund of any Wheaton College tuition, room and board or other fees.

Roommates, students living together in a suite, and students living together in a house are considered a “Residential Unit.”  A Residential Unit is a group of individuals who share living space and who will need to be quarantined, in accordance with direction from the College, if any one of the individuals in the Residential Unit are diagnosed with COVID-19.

Infectious Disease Mitigation

The College expects students will adhere to COVID-19 mitigation strategies including but not limited to participating in any College trainings, engaging in social distancing, practicing good personal hygiene, using face-coverings and employing proper cleaning and disinfection.

Except in cases where it is unsafe to do so due to a medical condition, all residents will be expected to wear face coverings at all times other than when in their residence hall room, suite, or house with members of their “Residential Unit.”  Students may also remove their masks temporarily for the purposes of bathing and eating.  Additionally, residents are expected to adhere to current college policy regarding social distancing, common area capacities, and hosting guests.

All residents are expected to practice good hygiene, including frequent hand washing, coughing into a tissue or shirt sleeve, proper disposal of used tissues, etc.  All residents are advised to clean and disinfect high touch areas before and after use.  This includes, door knobs, railings, cell phones, computers, bathrooms, kitchens, etc.

All residents will be required to monitor symptoms daily that, based on current guidance, are known to be associated with COVID-19.  Residents may be asked to self-report their symptoms to the college.

Mitigation strategies are subject to change based on developing circumstances and guidance.  Failure to comply with this guidance will be handled through the Student Conduct process and may result in the loss of housing privileges.

Additional Cleaning Measures

Theme Houses will be supplied with cleaning supplies, disinfectant, and hand sanitizer as it pertains to disinfectant guidelines. Suites (Gebbie and Keefe) will only be supplied with disinfectant (hand sanitizer is already installed at the main entrance). Residence Halls will have disinfectant supplied to kitchens and laundry rooms. Everett Hall will be provided with disinfectant, hand sanitizer, and clorox wipes Entrances to halls have had hand sanitizer stations installed.

Guest Limitations

Starting Monday, October 5, 2020, on-campus residential students may have any on-campus residential student as their guest in their private bedroom area of their assigned residence hall, house or suite. Residential students are not permitted to have guests that live off-campus or others from outside the Wheaton community, including family members in a residence hall at any time. At this time, due to the nature of the necessary COVID precautions, “overnight“ guests are not permitted.  A guest would be classified as “overnight” if they are present in the room when any room occupant is sleeping regardless of when they arrive or depart the room.

The maximum occupancy of a room with one resident is two people and the maximum occupancy of a room with two or more residents is four people. Each room resident is able, and limited, to host only one guest at a time. All instances of a guest visit must receive approval from both roommates.  Approval can be revoked by either party at any time.

Guests are not permitted in residential common areas of any hall, suite or house because common areas are reserved for the residents of that building, suite or house. Common areas include lounges, bathrooms, kitchens, private living rooms (in the case of houses and suites), etc.

Clearance on the CoVerified app is required for guest privileges. Both the host and the guest are responsible to confirm that they are “Cleared” through CoVerified. While guests are in a room, face coverings must be worn at all times and proper social distancing is required. In circumstances where room size or layout does not allow for proper social distancing, guests are not permitted, regardless of the capacity limits listed above.

To respect the core of college residential living, Wheaton will not be regularly monitoring guests.  Access to residence halls is only provided to residents and it is incumbent on the community to self-monitor and ensure compliance with these guidelines.

Commons Areas

Residence hall, suite, and house common areas are reserved solely for residents of that building, suite, or house.  Common areas will have posted occupancy limits that have been determined to best allow for proper social distancing.

Non-Essential Travel

All residents are asked to minimize travel off-campus. Travel whenever possible should be limited to shopping necessities, attending medical appointments, work, or other academic commitments.

It is expected that all residents abide by current college policy regarding off-campus or out of state travel and subsequent requirements for self-isolation.  It is not the College’s responsibility to provide residence for students needing to self-isolate due to personal travel.

Student Conduct

Violations of the measures in place to protect the community and mitigate the spread of COVID-19, will be addressed through the Student Conduct process and may result in the loss of residential privileges. Students removed from housing as a part of the Student Conduct process will not be refunded for any portion of their tuition, room and board or other fees.

Possible Closure of Residence Halls

The COVID-19 pandemic is a dynamic situation with multiple variables and unknowns related to future projections.  As such, residential students must realize that Wheaton College may at any time during the academic term determine that it is in the College and community’s best interest to close the residence halls.  Residents will be required at that point to vacate their residence hall rooms and, as such, are expected to have an evacuation plan in place prior to their arrival on campus.

Updates to Policies and Guidance

Please be aware that due to the evolving nature of these circumstances, policy and guidance may change at any time. Changes will be communicated to the community. It is the responsibility of the individual to stay informed and comply with any changing requirements.

Commuting and Off Campus Students

Commuters will need to adhere to the above protocols on campus and follow the same guidelines as they travel on public transportation, interact with those that they live, and with employers and co-workers at their jobs and internships. Commuters will likely come to campus less often, because some courses will be offered online, or groups of students in a particular class will attend on different days. Commuters may be asked to self-administer a health checklist before coming to campus, and remain remote at any sign of illness.