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Important Update on COVID-19 (Coronavirus) and New Travel Guidelines

Dear members of the Emerson community:

As you know, the College has been closely tracking developments related to the novel coronavirus COVID-19. Administrators continue to stay in regular contact with public health experts and have been meeting frequently to evaluate and prepare for this ever-changing situation. As the disease has taken hold in areas of the United States, many of you have shared your concerns and questions with me, Provost Whelan, Dean Hoppe, Shari Stier, and others. 

Please know that I and members of the College’s senior administration and the emergency response team are committed to keeping our community healthy, prepared, and informed. I write today to inform you of additional precautions that the College is taking in the interest of the health and well-being of everyone on our campus; to communicate the expectations for students, faculty, and staff; and to share more information and resources for the Emerson community. 

COVID-19 Testing

Many people have asked questions about testing for COVID-19. While the CDC has developed new testing kits to detect COVID-19, the testing is currently reserved for specimens collected from individuals that meet CDC criteria for COVID-19 testing

New Travel Guidelines

  • International Travel: Until further notice, Emerson is prohibiting College-funded staff, faculty, and student travel to countries with a CDC Travel Health Notice of Level 2 or 3 (currently China, Iran, Italy, South Korea, and Japan) and strongly recommends avoiding personal travel to these areas by any Emerson community member.
  • Travel in the U.S.: The College will continue to fund Emerson-related domestic travel as usual. However, we encourage everyone in our community – faculty, staff, and students – to weigh whether any domestic travel between now and at least until commencement is essential and instead to explore options to join meetings or events remotely, especially in the growing number of areas with high infection rates.
  • The College will require that anyone visiting locations rated at level 3 to complete the CDC-recommended 14-day self-quarantine at their permanent address and be symptom-free before returning to campus. Students who may have special circumstances should reach out to the Center for Health and Wellness (617-824-8666) or the Office of Campus Life (617-824-8640) to discuss. 
  • In accordance with CDC recommendations, all travelers should monitor their health during travel and for 14 days after returning to the United States.
  • If you are a student, faculty member, or staff member and have been to an area identified as a CDC Level 2 or 3 country, please inform the College.

CDC Guidelines for Observation, Quarantine, and Isolation

Self-observation means people should remain alert for subjective fever, cough, or difficulty breathing. If they feel feverish or develop a cough or difficulty breathing during the self-observation period, they should take their temperature, self-isolate, limit contact with others, and seek advice by telephone from a healthcare provider or their local health department to determine whether medical evaluation is needed.

Quarantine in general means the separation of a person or group of people reasonably believed to have been exposed to a communicable disease but not yet symptomatic, from others who have not been so exposed, to prevent the possible spread of the communicable disease. 

Based on recommendations from public health officials, we have identified suitable, dedicated housing for quarantine if needed. If a quarantine becomes necessary, the College’s staff is prepared to help students with food delivery, and accommodations will be made to help students continue their coursework and stay connected. 

For more information on self-quarantine, visit Emerson’s COVID-19 FAQ.

Isolation means the separation of a person or group of people known or reasonably believed to be infected with a communicable disease and potentially infectious from those who are not infected to prevent the spread of communicable disease. Isolation for public health purposes may be voluntary or compelled by federal, state, or local public health order. Any presumptive COVID-19 case connected with the Emerson community will be managed in close collaboration with local and state health officials.

For Returning Students

While the College remains open, the expectation is for students to attend class unless they are ill or have been medically quarantined or isolated. If you have been to a CDC Level 3 country or Level 2 country, please inform the Office of the Dean of Campus Life, who will, in turn, contact your faculty members.

For Returning Faculty

Some faculty members have asked about teaching courses online. The College is exploring the use of remote teaching and learning tools, if a decision is made to move all courses online. 

New Webpage and Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

The College has established a new web page with additional information and resources for the Emerson community, including a list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ), which will be updated regularly. Please visit the site and view the FAQ at

Lee Pelton

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