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Sunday, November 29, 2020
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Fall 2020 Reopening Plan

Dear members of the Emerson community,

The faculty, student and staff COVID-19 Working Groups have spent the last several weeks working to evaluate, develop and recommend reopening plans for the 2020 Fall Term. The vast majority of our students and their parents have expressed a strong desire to return to living and learning on campus. The Fall term plan is informed by safeguarding the health and wellbeing of our entire community as the chief and principal priority.

This fall, the College will launch One Emerson Flex Learning, which will be designed to minimize health and safety risks to our community. Most courses will have blended learning: a combination of in-person experiences alternating with synchronous and asynchronous technologies.

Flex Learning is our approach to serve the various and diverse needs of our students, faculty, and staff during these unprecedented times, while preserving our commitment to a robust and vibrant campus experience.

Additionally, One Emerson Flex Learning will include a modest shift in our academic calendar, a significant de-densification of classrooms, residence halls, and offices, all of which will further enhance our efforts to create a safe and healthy environment for living, learning and teaching.

To reduce the risk to the community posed by travelling away from and returning to the Boston campus, the Fall 2020 Term will adhere to the following schedule:

  • Friday, August 21 – Monday, August 31 – 10-15% of all staff will begin to return to campus. Flexible schedules will be organized in order to de-densify the campus as much as possible. Managers will contact their teams to discuss the return to campus plans.
  • Friday, August 21- Monday, August 24: Residence Halls open for new students, who will move in during assigned shifts. Housing assignments and move in schedules will be shared on July 17.
  • Thursday, August 27- Sunday, August 30: Residence Halls open for continuing students, who will move in during assigned shifts. Housing staff will contact those students with impacted assignments beginning this week.  
  • Monday, August 31: Classes begin. On August 31 and September 1, classes will occur online, to allow off-campus students time to move into their apartments. In-person classes begin Wednesday, September 2.
  • Tuesday, November 24: In-person instruction concludes before students depart residence halls on November 25 for Thanksgiving break. (Students will not return to campus after Thanksgiving break).
  • Monday, November 30 – Wednesday, December 9: Classes, review sessions, reading days and final exams will be fully online.
  • Thursday, December 10 – Friday, January 8: The College will offer an online Winter Term that is optional for students.

For students signed up for Emerson Los Angeles, the Fall 2020 Term will adhere to the following schedule:

  • Monday, August 3 – Staff will return to campus.
  • Monday, August 24 (phased move in) – The residence hall at ELA will open for students.
  • Monday, August 31 – Classes begin.
  • Wednesday, September 2 – Internships begin.
  • Tuesday, November 24 – In-person instruction/on-site internships conclude before students depart the residence hall on November 25 for Thanksgiving break. (Students will not return to campus after Thanksgiving break).
  • Monday, November 30-Wednesday, December 9 – Classes, review sessions, reading days and final exams will be online.
  • Friday, December 11 – All internships conclude.

Students in the ELA program will receive updated guidance on living in residence, orientation, and academic requirements in the weeks prior to arrival. Internships may be in-person, virtual, or a combination.

Students scheduled to participate in Kasteel Well or other study away programs will receive detailed information regarding Fall 2020 plans from the appropriate program managers.

Our International Students remain at the forefront of our thinking and planning, and follow-up communications from the appropriate office will be made to all international students. The Office of Internationalization and Global Engagement (IGE) is closely monitoring circumstances in our students’ home countries, travel guidance, and developments related to the anticipated reopening of U.S. Consulates. IGE will continue to be in consistent contact with current students as information becomes available. In addition, the Office of Undergraduate Admission will be in touch with international students in an effort to provide options for the fall, depending on their situation.

For Graduate Students: The Dean of the Graduate School will be in touch about the course modality for on-campus programs. Existing online and low residency programs will follow their previously announced format. The Speech@Emerson and DMDA programs will follow their own published calendars.

Developing the curriculum to accommodate the Flex Learning plan is now in progress, and the Office of the Provost and Academic Affairs is making every effort to ensure that the courses for which students have already registered will be offered in the Fall. To fulfill academic accreditation and federal requirements, we may need to hold additional Friday and/or weekend classes.

As a critical component of returning to campus, the College is developing a comprehensive program to de-densify the campus. This will impact residence halls, dining halls, offices and classrooms. As a result, the plan will require the use of both traditional and non-traditional academic spaces. This will, unfortunately impact some existing course schedules and residence hall assignments. Staff are working diligently on these plans and details. The Registrar’s Office will have the most up to date course and room schedule later this summer.

The Flex Learning plan will need to be coupled with additional measures that reduce the probability and spread of the virus in our community and across our campuses, including:

  • Plans for ensuring regular screening of the community for COVID-19;
  • Symptom checking and monitoring, contact tracing and tracking of potential exposure supported by health care apps and other digital technology;
  • Significantly enhanced cleaning and disinfection;
  • Required use of face coverings in all campus spaces, including classrooms and residence halls (which will be supplied by the College);
  • Installing Plexiglas at key contact points;
  • Limiting the number of people in elevators, stairways and hallways at one time;
  • Staggering start and end times of classes and work times to reduce contact in entries and exit ways;
  • Staff continuing to work remotely when possible;
  • Staying home if you are feeling sick;
  • Frequent hand washing/sanitizing,
  • Social distancing.

No doubt, the Fall 2020 term will look and feel different from past semesters at Emerson, as it will at almost every college or university across the nation. While we anticipate that the Spring 2021 term will be more traditional, we will continue to closely follow local, state, and federal guidance during the Fall term and evaluate all possible options as we approach the Spring term. I have great confidence that together, our remarkable community will commit and adhere to the health and safety protocols that will allow our commonwealth of learning to continue to thrive and be successful now and into the future.

I appreciate your continued patience, flexibility and understanding, and I am grateful for this community’s commitment to our students and your care for the wellbeing of each and every Emersonian.

Sincerely,
Lee Pelton

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