July 30, 2020

Dear Faculty and Staff,

As we approach the start of the semester and continue with our plans to resume in-person learning, we write today to share information about steps we are taking to prepare for the return of our students, staff, and employees. The steps include committing to a community agreement and a comprehensive plan for testing for COVID-19 among our community members. The protocols will begin August 24 and include regular testing throughout the fall semester for all students, faculty, and staff who are on campus.

Community Agreement

As part of the Trinity community, every employee and student has a responsibility to keep our campus as safe as possible by following Trinity and State of Connecticut health and safety protocols. Therefore, students and employees will be asked to commit to a Community Health and Safety Agreement (to be sent in early August) that outlines specific expectations and requirements.

Employee Testing

Testing for COVID-19 will be critical to our ability to monitor the health and safety of our community. We are partnering with the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard to provide very frequent testing in the first few weeks of the semester and a regular cadence of screening after that. All students and employees who are on campus will be tested regularly throughout the fall semester. The college will pay for the cost of this program.

Here are the basics of the testing plan; more details are available in our FAQ, and logistics will be shared when they are confirmed.

  • The process for pre-arrival (prior to August 24) employee testing is being finalized and will be shared in early August.
  • During the initial weeks of the semester, all students will be tested twice per week, and employees will be tested weekly. If the prevalence of infections on campus remains low, we will adjust the testing cadence to once per week for students and every other week for employees.
  • Testing for asymptomatic students, faculty, and staff (surveillance testing) will be conducted on campus, at the Ferris Athletic Center Field House. Some portions of the process will be conducted under a tent outside the building.
  • If employees develop symptoms at work, they must immediately leave campus without coming into contact with supervisors or coworkers. Employees should notify their supervisors once they arrive at a safe off-campus location. They should seek a COVID-19 diagnostic test from their healthcare provider as soon as possible.
  • Employees must report a positive COVID 19 test to Human Resources so that contact tracing can be conducted and health instructions can be given to coworkers.

The surveillance testing program will use a viral molecular test via the PCR method. Individuals will collect their own specimen under observation at the on-campus testing center. This test uses a nasal swab that is inserted only a short distance into the nose (anterior nares), which is a much less invasive and more comfortable alternative to the deep nasopharyngeal method that was more common at the start of the pandemic.

The Broad Institute is estimating that results will be ready about 24 hours after the specimens arrive at their facility. At this time, we are planning to have test results returned to individuals via a secure app/website. Should that process not be fully implemented at the start of the semester, you will receive an email when results are available with a link to a secure web portal to view your result.

A limited number of personnel running the testing center and operating the contact tracing program will have access to test results. In addition, the Broad Institute will report results to the CT Department of Public Health.

Employees who will continue to work remotely are not expected to be on campus and therefore would not be included in the surveillance testing plan. All employees, both faculty and staff, who resume campus work will be included in the testing plan. Employees should continue to practice personal health measures, including limiting travel, to reduce their risk of exposure, throughout the remainder of the summer and into the academic year. Prior to the start of classes, we will offer initial testing before the majority of employees return to campus.

We know you’ll have questions, and there’s much more to come in the days ahead as we finalize and then share information about other aspects of the college’s comprehensive planning and response related to COVID-19. The college will host a virtual town hall for faculty and staff from 2 to 3 p.m. on Thursday, August 6. You’ll receive a separate email shortly with a link to join that town hall; we hope you’ll be able to participate.

Finally, we will continue to monitor state guidelines and conditions regarding the virus both locally and globally, and we will stay abreast of information from the World Health Organization, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and local/state health authorities. We ask all members of the Trinity community to stay informed as well, both of circumstances locally and of updates that we’ll provide to you via email and on our Returning to Trinity websiteThe situation is fluid, and conditions may require us to shift plans at any time, whether before or after the semester begins. Please know that we will provide as much notice as possible if/when things need to change.


Michelle Cabral
Assistant Vice President for Human Resources