College outlines criteria for retrieving on-campus belongings

By Abigail Chang

Students packed their belongings into boxes after the school announced the cancellation of in-person classes.

Students living within 500 miles of Middlebury who are not returning to campus this fall were asked to reserve a 90-minute time slot between June 3 and 17 to retrieve any belongings left at the college. These students — including seniors who graduated and students intending to study abroad in the fall — can also designate a proxy if they are unable to pick up their belongings themselves, according to Deans of Students Baishakhi Taylor and Derek Doucet in an email sent to students May 22.

Students who live more than 500 miles from campus will have their boxes shipped to them, though the college says furniture and other large items will have to be donated if students cannot pick them up or designate a proxy to retrieve them.

The school has coordinated with Vermont government officials for the staggered, brief return of students who need to collect their belongings stored on campus, according to Director of Health Services Mark Peluso.

“On May 19, Governor Scott made a narrow exception to the 14-day quarantine rule allowing students to enter Vermont for one day only, requiring no overnight stay with no non-essential stops within the state,” Peluso wrote in an email to The Campus.

Bitrus Audu, Ross commons residence director (CRD), said the Vermont government has stipulated that no more than 20% of the student body may return to the college for their belongings at the same time. Audu noted that the college’s plan allows a much smaller percentage to return simultaneously. Only about 10 students or proxies will be on campus during each 90-minute increment. In order to promote social distancing, residential life staff will reschedule students if roommates, suitemates or several hallmates reserve the same time slot.

“This plan is put in place recognizing that it’s not a one size fits all, Audu said. “There’s definitely going to be a handful of people that, you know, have special case situations, might need reasonable accommodations, exceptions, and we’re working with those students to really try to navigate what that looks like.”

To reduce health risks, the college will ask students to abide by a health pledge. Peluso also listed several of the college’s additional requirements, including that each student or their proxy self-quarantines and practices social distancing for 14 days before they come to retrieve possessions. 

Two facilities staff members will help each student move out their belongings. Jen Kazmierczak, environmental health and safety coordinator, said the college has implemented several measures to reduce health risks for employees during the move-out process next month. These include social distancing measures and requiring that students and staff wear cloth masks. Employees are also required to complete covid-19 safety training if they are approved to work on campus.

“Middlebury’s priority is the health and safety of our employees and students,” Kazmierczak said in an email to The Campus. “The process will be managed carefully to allow for the safe pickup of personal belongings.”

Facilities staff will also move the belongings of students who are returning to campus in the fall into their new rooms. However, the college will not announce the plan for the upcoming fall — including whether students will be on campus — until June 22.