Maroon and Gold Student Behavioral Contract aims to keep students and campus healthy

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the “Norwich together, Norwich forever” slogan applies as much to health preservation as to morale building. In town halls and other communications, President Mark C. Anarumo and Norwich University officials have stressed the need to preserve collective health, partly by having students sign the Maroon and Gold Student Behaviorial Contract.

The contract is among the three forms students must submit as they arrive on campus ahead of the Aug. 31 start of classes. Part of the contract addresses the need for Norwich community members to assess their health and help maintain others’ health.

The Maroon and Gold Behavioral Contract is one of three forms students must submit as they arrive on campus ahead of the Aug. 31 start of classes.

In an Aug. 4 Update from the Hill video, Anarumo emphasized his message.

“Look, I don’t like wearing this thing any more than any of you do,” Anarumo said, peeling off the black face mask he’d been wearing. “But it’s something we have to do along with some other measures for opening up our campus for the Fall 2020 term and (keeping) it open well into the future.”

In the contract, students agree to:

— Follow Norwich University and Vermont Health Department-specified health assessment procedures, including periodic COVID-19 testing, temperature checks and symptom screening.

— Immediately call the university’s Health Center if they exhibit any COVID-19 symptoms — fever or chills; cough; shortness of breath or difficulty breathing; fatigue, muscle or body aches; headache; new loss of taste or smell; sore throat; congestion or runny nose; nausea or vomiting, diarrhea, and get additional screening. (After screening, students also agree to cooperate with Vermont Health Department contract tracing.)

arrival testing 2 min
After testing for COVID-19, Norwich University’s community will promise to vigilantly wash their hands, physically distance and adhere to reduced capacity in buildings to keep campus safe and the semester going this fall. (Photo by Mark Collier.)

— Follow posted personal protective equipment rules and wear a face mask, per Vermont Health Department and university guidelines, whenever they’re in a public space, indoors or outdoors, and can’t constantly stay 6 feet from others. 

— Call the university’s Health Center if they’ve been maskless and closer than 6 feet to someone who is, or becomes, COVID-19 positive. Students also agree to follow instructions on isolation, quarantining and additional testing and screening and to continue their courses online.

— Follow posted maximum occupancy rules for residence hall and barracks areas including lounges, latrines and showers, and follow visitor policies. 

— Follow safety guidelines for classrooms, meeting rooms, weight rooms, the swimming pool and athletic venues, exercise areas, Kreitzberg Library, White Chapel, Mack Auditorium, Wise Campus Center, the bookstore, the uniform store and the barbershop.  

— Maintain 6-foot distance from classmates and Northfield and surrounding community residents when off-campus (as a commuter student or visitor).

“If I am a commuter student or a residential student with a medically or academically mandated and approved reason for traveling off campus, I recognize that my off-campus interactions at home and in the community where I reside or travel to, may increase my number of contacts on a daily basis,” the contract reads. “With this understanding, I will … do everything possible to reduce risk of exposure (including) wearing a mask, frequent hand washing, daily temperature and symptom monitoring and avoiding large gatherings.”

Clinical experience

In a four-minute Update from the Hill video released Thursday, Norwich University Nursing Director Paulette Thabault recapped the first arrival weekend, Aug. 8 and Aug. 9, which welcomed students from areas with higher COVID-19 infection rates. These students immediately tested for COVID-19 and entered a campus quarantine. 

arrival test 1b
A rack of test tubes awaits analysis at the Plumley Armory COVID-19 testing center on Aug. 8, 2020. (Photo by Mark Collier.)

This weekend, after seven days in campus quarantine, the first-weekend students will retest for COVID-19. If they test positive, per university protocol, students will enter isolation in a private bedroom, private bathroom, a phone-in wellness check for each student from medical professionals, meal deliveries, and other support services.

Per the policy, if after the 14th day of isolation, the isolated students meet the criteria for being asymptomatic, a medical provider or the Vermont Department of Health will be consulted to determine if any further action is necessary or whether the student qualifies for discharge from quarantine. If the student is found to be no longer contagious, he or she may move back into their original room. 

“The idea here is to really identify anybody who may be carrying COVID-19 and may not be aware of it, and (make) sure that we’re protecting the rest of the students who may be coming ... later from what we consider the lower-risk counties,” Thabault said in the video. “We’re doing our best to keep everyone protected and safe.”

Thabault said her nursing students have stepped up, helping to run the Plumley Armory testing center after getting tested themselves for COVID-19. In helping to conduct the first arrival weekend tests, and 500 plus employee tests on Aug. 5, Thabault said, the students gained valuable clinical experience and will better understand how communities mitigate pandemics. Students in the video said they’ve benefited.

“I’m able to take everything that we’re learning, either through studies and hands-on aspects that we have right now … and apply it to what I’m going to do for the rest of my life,” said Caroline Ells, who will shortly enter her senior year.

(Slideshow photos by Mark Collier.)

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