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Vermont college switching to virtual learning due to COVID-19 surge

Getty Images, Yuichiro Chino

A liberal arts college in Vermont announced on Thursday that it will be switching to virtual learning after the school learned of several dozen confirmed COVID-19 cases on campus.

Officials from Middlebury College said in a letter posted Thursday that they had learned of 34 confirmed COVID-19 cases early that morning. They said that a total of 49 students had confirmed COVID-19 cases in addition to one confirmed case among employees.

As a result, classes will be remote for the remainder of the semester, and final exams will also be administered remotely. Students were also urged to leave campus if possible, though officials noted that exemptions would be made for those who had previously been approved to stay on campus over break or had to stick to travel plans.

“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,” school officials said in their letter.

“Given the timing of this increase, coinciding with the end of the fall semester and imminent student departures, we have decided to move immediately to remote instruction and postpone in-person events,” they added.

The news comes despite the fact that the school noted that nearly 100 percent of its students were fully vaccinated. However, Vermont has been seeing a higher number of COVID-19 cases in recent days.

On Wednesday, the state saw over 350 cases, and more than 270 cases the day prior. On Monday, the state saw over 1,300 cases compared to the mostly single-digit cases logged in June and parts July.

It also comes as the omicron variant has been detected in multiple states within the U.S. since it was first officially found in South Africa last month. Scientists are trying to determine how contagious and severe the variant is compared to previous ones like delta. 

Tags COVID-19 Middlebury College omicron Vermont

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