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Saturday, September 19, 2020
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One Emerson: Return to Campus for Grad Students

Hello graduate students,

I hope this message finds you safe and well. As the calendar turns to August and we gear up for the fall term, I’m writing to share information about Emerson’s COVID-19 testing plans this fall and preparations you should take if you plan to return to campus.

If you will be taking any classes that meet in person on Emerson’s campus, or if you will be coming to campus for any other reason — to teach, access services, or use campus facilities (e.g., labs, studios, library, fitness center, etc.) — you must participate in our testing program and meet all requirements of our return-to-campus program as outlined below.

If you will be taking all your courses online and will not be coming to campus for any reason, you do not need to participate in our testing program or meet the guidelines below. You will not have access to any campus facilities for the fall term.

We know that many students’ plans are continuing to evolve. No matter which of the above categories you fall into, we encourage you to read the below to understand the expectations and requirements of anyone who will be accessing Emerson buildings this fall.

Summary of Requirements

Students who will be physically present on campus in any form must:

  • Self-quarantine at home for 14 days before their baseline COVID-19 test.
  • Participate in our weekly COVID-19 testing program.
  • Complete a daily online symptom screening.
  • Participate in our contact tracing program, including responding promptly to outreach from any contact tracer and following the prescribed health guidance.
  • Complete an online training course detailing our safety and health requirements.
  • Agree to the Emerson Community Compact contained within the the online training course.
  • Wear a face covering at all times while on campus.
  • Maintain a physical distance of six (6) feet from others while on campus.
  • Practice good hand hygiene.

Details are below.

Self-Quarantine Before Arrival

All students are asked to self-quarantine at home for 14 days before their initial baseline test. This does not mean that you need to travel to Boston early; we are asking you to self-quarantine wherever you will be for the two weeks before your arrival back on campus. For example, if your baseline test will take place on August 31, you should start quarantining at home (or wherever you are at the time) on August 17.

Upon arrival, students will need to attest that they have completed the self-quarantine. Quarantining at home means:

  • Limiting travel outside the home, except for essential travel (work, medical appointments, preparations for return to Boston).
  • Wearing a face covering when outside the home.
  • Maintaining at least six (6) feet of physical distance from others when outside the home.
  • Refraining from large gatherings and crowds.
  • Practicing good hand hygiene (wash hands thoroughly with soap for at least 20 seconds and use hand sanitizer when soap is not available).
  • Beginning to check your daily symptoms online.

Please see further information about entering Massachusetts below. The Mass. requirements apply to you and to anyone traveling with you.

Testing, Symptom Screening and Contact Tracing

Testing, symptom screening, and contact tracing will be three critical elements in keeping our community as safe and healthy as possible when we return to campus — along with, of course, consistent use of face coverings, social distancing, and proper hand hygiene.

  • Emerson will participate in the Safe for School Testing Program and purchase COVID-19 PCR tests from the Broad Institute in Cambridge, Mass., joining a number of other independent colleges and universities. We are working with Tufts Medical Center as our logistics partner.
  • Staff, faculty, and students returning to campus will be required to participate in our COVID-19 testing program and conduct a baseline COVID-19 PCR self-swab test prior to moving in or starting classes.
  • COVID-19 self-swab testing for Emerson community members will take place at Tufts Medical Center (entry at 116 Harrison Avenue, near the corner of Kneeland Street).
  • Students will need to complete their baseline test prior to attending their first in-person class session. Individuals must receive a negative result before they can access campus buildings.
  • Following their baseline test, students should self-quarantine in their Boston-area residence until they receive their test result.
  • Test times will be available starting Wednesday, August 26. You should have received email outreach from our staff in Off-Campus Student Services to gather information that will allow us to schedule your baseline test. If you did not receive outreach or have not yet completed the Intent to Return to Boston Form, please do so now.
  • Please keep in mind that test results may take 24-48 hours to process. Every effort will be made to assist those students who are not able to arrive until September 1 to receive appointments closer to the start of classes.
  • In addition to the baseline test, your initial appointment at Tufts will include a review of the required daily symptom screening application and your attestation that you have self-quarantined for 14 days prior to your arrival.
  • Emerson will cover the costs of required baseline and weekly COVID-19 tests. Any tests or further medical care required due to presentation of symptoms or possible exposure would be covered by each individual’s insurance.

Emerson’s protocols were designed in consultation with public health experts and are instituted with the goal of maintaining the health and safety of the College community. The above protocols may be adjusted as new or updated guidance is received by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts or other local officials. Any changes will be communicated as soon as possible. We realize that these requirements may pose an inconvenience for some students, and we will work closely with students to assist them as they satisfy these requirements.

Mass. Travel Guidance as of August 1

Per the new Massachusetts travel guidelines, all visitors entering Massachusetts, including returning residents, who do not meet an exemption, are required to do the following:

  • Quarantine for 14 days or provide evidence of a negative COVID-19 test result that has been administered within 72 hours prior to your arrival in Massachusetts.
  • If a COVID-19 test result has not been received within 72 hours prior to arrival in Massachusetts, visitors and residents must quarantine until they receive a negative test result.
  • Complete the Massachusetts Travel Form prior to arrival, unless you are visiting from a lower-risk state designated by the Department of Public Health. Students should select one of the first two options in the COVID-19 Test and Quarantine Status section of the form (i.e., ” a completed negative test within the last 72 hours” or “I plan to get a test and will remain in quarantine until results are received”. As noted above, Emerson will cover the cost of baseline and weekly testing).

You can use the exemption link to find out if you are exempt from submitting the Massachusetts Travel Form. This currently includes individuals traveling from the following states: Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, and Hawaii. Note that Rhode Island has been removed from the list effective August 7.

It is the area you are traveling from that determines your need to complete the Mass. Travel Form and quarantine, not your state of residence or country of citizenship. For example, a resident of New Jersey who will be traveling to Boston from California is not exempt from the travel requirements. In contrast, a citizen of another country who has spent two weeks in New Jersey immediately prior to move-in is exempt.

It is important for each traveler to complete this form. The College will not be able to complete this form for you.

Please note that even if you have received a negative test result within the 72 hours before entering Mass., you are still required to participate in your baseline test at Tufts Medical Center and all subsequent weekly tests.

Your Next Steps

If you are only registered for online courses and don’t plan to be on campus at all, no further action is necessary … unless you end up registering for a class that meets on campus.

If you will be on campus:

  • If you are registered only for online courses but plan to physically access campus, please email chris_daly@emerson.edu so that we can contact you about a baseline testing date and assign the online training course to you shortly. If you are already registered for Flex courses (which meet at least partially on campus), you do not need to email.
  • If you have not yet completed the Intent to Return to Boston form so that Off-Campus Student Services can schedule your baseline testing appointment, please do so now.
  • Complete the online training course Back to Emerson: What to Expect Fall 2020 in Canvas (Emerson’s learning management system). You will receive a follow-up email shortly announcing the availability of the course.
  • Self-quarantine starting 14 days before your baseline test.
  • Make sure you have a reliable thermometer with you in Boston for your daily symptom screening.

This is a lot of information about a topic that is still evolving. The full Return to Campus Guide is available on our One Emerson webpages. If you have any questions about the above or anything in the guide, please don’t hesitate to contact me. We look forward to this fall and have confidence in our community’s ability to keep each other as safe and healthy as possible. Thanks in advance for all your efforts as we brave this “new normal” together!

Take care,
Jim Hoppe
Vice President & Dean of Campus Life

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