Middlebury College, in Vermont, announced on Thursday night that it would move to remote instruction for the remainder of the semester as an outbreak grows. The college will hold final exams remotely.
Administrators announced 34 new cases, bringing the total number of active cases reported to 50, the most on campus since the start of the pandemic.
New restrictions are to begin Friday at 5 a.m. On-campus dining will transition to grab-and-go meals. All indoor events, athletic events and arts performances have been postponed. Officials urged students to limit indoor gatherings to six people.
“While many of the new cases we have identified appear to be connected, occurring in clusters among people who socialize together, an increase in the prevalence of Covid-19 increases the likelihood of broader community transmission,” university officials wrote in a campuswide email obtained by The New York Times.
While many colleges have mandated on-campus testing for all students, testing has remained optional this semester for most students at Middlebury, the student newspaper reported, although unvaccinated students and in-season varsity athletes who travel must meet testing requirements. Officials said 99 percent of the student body was fully vaccinated. Boosters will be required by mid-February.
DePaul University, in Chicago, plans to start winter classes remote, after students travel for the winter break. Southern New Hampshire University will take similar measures. Both schools plan to maintain return to in-person teaching mid-January.
Vermont is the most vaccinated state in the U.S., according to federal data: 74 percent of its population is fully vaccinated. But cases are rising, up 25 percent in the past two weeks. In Addison County, where Middlebury is, new cases have increased 56 percent over the past two weeks.
Administrators urged Middlebury students to leave campus early. “Students who are able to depart for break or change plans without unreasonable complication or expense, should do so,” officials wrote in the email, sent to students at 7:55 p.m.
The college is offering optional testing on Friday and Saturday. University officials said asymptomatic students would not need a test result to depart campus.
“There’s a general creeping anxiety, both about our health and safety, but also about what it means for classes, finals, events, performances,” said Riley Board, 21, the editor in chief of the student newspaper, The Middlebury Campus.
“If I had to predict how people will feel tomorrow, it will be this defeated end to the semester,” Ms. Board said. “Where we all have to leave slightly early and with the knowledge that something went wrong at the very end.”