Important Information About Returning to Wells

July 30, 2020
President Gibralter announces plans for August

UPDATE (Aug. 6, 2020):
The full text of the Wells College fall 2020 reopening plan may be found at this link. Many more details, including a set of Frequently Asked Questions, may now be found at

ORIGINAL STORY (July 30, 2020):
We are in the final weeks before campus reopens to students for the start of the fall semester. Thanks to the tireless efforts of many within the Wells community, every aspect of the College has been reviewed and revised to create the safest living and learning environment possible. Wells’ location in rural Upstate New York, and the size of our student body and physical campus, are distinct advantages that we expect will help create the safest possible living and learning environment on campus for our entire community. 

We understand this can be both exciting and overwhelming, and you may have many questions — we are hard at work ensuring we have answers. We are creating a detailed website with more information and answers to your questions, so please keep an eye out for subsequent emails.

Below is some initial guidance to keep in mind as you prepare to arrive on campus next month. Please review this information carefully.

What to Expect

The health and safety of our entire Wells community is our highest priority. When you arrive on campus, things will be different in all areas of college life — academics, residential living, dining services, campus facilities and more. The seriousness of COVID-19 cannot be overstated, and the success of this plan depends upon a shared responsibility to keep each other healthy and safe, and each of us doing our part by making good choices.

Wells has instituted community-wide COVID-19 policies and testing protocols with a major regional health care provider, for all to follow without exception. These include the following fundamental behavioral guidelines:

  • Masks will be required by everyone on campus when in public spaces and in the presence of others. This includes wearing masks in all classrooms.
  • Handwashing is essential to reducing the spread of the virus. Wash your hands often; do not touch your mouth or face; and carry sanitizer with you.
  • Everyone will complete a brief screening questionnaire each day.
  • Maintain social distance of at least six feet between you and others.

Failure to follow protocols will be treated as a violation of the College’s honor code. More information will be available shortly and updated regularly on our website.

Preparing to Return to Campus

Students will be asked to select a specific date and time for arriving on campus, so that the College may undertake a phased approach to having small groups of students move in and get settled safely. New first-year and transfer students may return on either Aug. 21 or 22, and returning students may return on Aug. 25, 26, 27 or 28. 

All students will have an opportunity to request a specific return date and time, and will be receiving more information from the Office of Residence Life very soon. Please arrive on campus only on your scheduled date and time. 

Those who are coming from a state on New York’s list of travel restricted states must quarantine for 14 days after arriving in New York State; you can find the most current list of states at this link. Students arriving from outside the U.S. must also quarantine for 14 days. Those who must quarantine may arrive as early as Monday, Aug. 17 so that they can finish quarantine prior to classes beginning two weeks later. Students coming from a restricted state are also permitted to quarantine elsewhere in New York State at their discretion.

All students, especially those coming from areas with increasing cases of COVID-19, should take extra precautions against possible exposure to COVID-19 at least two weeks in advance of your first day on campus, and avoid large group gatherings (especially indoors) and unnecessary travel. We also strongly recommend that all students independently obtain a COVID-19 test before arriving on campus. In the event of a positive test, you will be better off staying at home to complete the period of isolation required by your home area.

Testing and Screening

All students will be required to take a COVID-19 test provided by the College within 24 hours of arriving on campus, and we expect our health care provider to return test results within 48 hours. All campus community members will be required to participate in mandatory testing, regardless of symptoms, on a recurring basis. Daily screening for everyone – students, faculty and staff – will be done using a mobile phone app developed by our health partners. Participation in this mandatory ongoing screening and testing will play a crucial role in mitigating any potential spread of the virus in our community. 

Any student who receives a positive COVID-19 test result or who is experiencing severe COVID-like symptoms, and who does not wish to return home, will be provided with an isolation room and daily meals. We are committed to providing daily support and care for students who have to go into isolation, and our staff will help identify any academic, medical, food, or mental health support needs, and arrange for the appropriate services to be provided. 

In addition, by law we are required to report any positive test results to the Cayuga County Health Department, which will manage the contact tracing that is required with assistance from the College and the College’s Community Medical Center.


As part of this year’s Orientation program, Wells is planning pre-arrival activities including a virtual gathering of all students (both new and returning) and their families on Thursday, August 6—more details will be provided shortly.

Arrival on Campus

On your scheduled day of arrival, students and families are asked to report to their assigned residence hall. In order to maintain a safe level of social distancing during move-in, we can only allow one person to assist students with move-in, and that person must be cleared 24 hours in advance of arrival using the same Wells COVID-19 screening app as required for students.

We have scheduled students to arrive in small groups, allowing for social distancing during the move-in process. Students are required to self-quarantine in their residence room until cleared by receiving a negative COVID-19 test result. 

Housing Assignments

The housing selection process is already underway, and final housing assignments will be announced by early August. Please note that students must be registered for classes in order to receive a housing assignment.

Academic Calendar

Classes are scheduled to begin on Monday, Aug. 31; please note that students who are in quarantine or isolation will not be permitted to attend in-person classes until their period of quarantine ends. Once students depart campus for Thanksgiving, they will complete the rest of their work and final exams remotely. 

Here is a summary of the fall academic calendar:

  • Aug. 17–30: return to campus 
  • Aug. 31: classes begin
  • Nov. 21–29: Thanksgiving break
  • Nov. 30: classes resume
  • Dec. 11: last day of classes
  • Dec. 14–18: final exams

You can see the most current fall 2020 academic calendar at the following link. Details on a revised calendar for the spring 2021 semester will be announced later this fall.

More Information

Once you are on campus, faculty, staff and student leaders will be available with materials and guidance to assist students and families, and answer questions. In addition, our website will contain the latest information on everything related to academics and campus life. 

Although there are many changes and new expectations for how we will learn, work and live together, Wells’ strength is that we are a small and caring community. If we commit to being the community we know we are, we hope to have a healthy and fun fall semester!

We cannot wait to welcome you to campus!

Our mission is for every student to think critically, reason wisely and act humanely as they cultivate meaningful lives. On our beautiful lakeside campus, students gain the knowledge, skills and experience to create their own unique path.

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