Trinity College testing site. Credit: Katie Cerulle

HARTFORD, CT  —  There are no students with COVID-19 at Trinity College. The college attributes the low number to its new protocols adopted a few weeks ago. 

As of September 14, Trinity College students, even those who are vaccinated, are now required to be isolated for a 10 day period in the event of a positive COVID test. 

It’s one of the new policies from the Trinity College COVID Steering Committee, which issued more stringent policies in response to the number of breakthrough cases.

Trinity College Chief of Staff and Associate Vice President of External Affairs Jason Rojas detailed a safe return to campus, which included, “​​vaccination, masking policies, social distancing measures where needed, hand hygiene, and policies that encourage individuals not to engage in risky social behavior that may lead to transmission of SARS-CoV-2 virus.”

All students are expected to be vaccinated unless they have a religious or medical exemption. There’s weekly testing of exempted individuals along with surveillance testing of 10 to 15% of vaccinated students. Vaccinated students who test positive are required to wear a mask at all times and check in with the Health Center. Faculty and staff are not required to submit to regular testing, but have been asked to submit their proof of vaccination to the Health Center before arrival on campus.

The amendment to this process, established earlier this month by the COVID Steering Committee, mandates that vaccinated students who test positive will be placed in isolation for 10 days.

Joe DiChristina, co-chairman of the COVID Steering Committee, said the surveillance testing has been successful. 

“Surveillance testing is selected by last name and last digit of your ID.” he explained adding, “In looking at the data, we wanted to ensure that there is a good cross section of where people are living. We reported that all residence halls are being targeted in the surveillance. Thirty to 40% of students in each dorm and off campus housing unit have been tested already in the first two and a half weeks”.

DiChristina says the updated policy is needed in part because of the percentage of fully vaccinated students who are testing positive. “Part of it is driven by observation of Connecticut College and their number of breakthrough cases,” he said referring to the more than 100 cases on that campus. 

DiChristina noted that professors are not subjected to the same rigid standards because they do not reside together. “The data from last year showed that students who live together are the ones who got contact-traced the most and usually contracted the virus. Because faculty do not live on campus, we decided that we could exempt fully vaccinated professors from surveillance testing.”

Ultimately, DiChristina was enthusiastic about the current low case count and mentioned the constantly adapting protocol. “We make adjustments based on the information we have and keep moving forward,” he said.