Happy Friday the 13th,
It’s Friday the 13th in 2020 … what could possibly go wrong? All humor aside, I wanted to share a few thoughts and pieces of information as we prepare to enter the last days of in-person classes on the Boston campus.
The GOOD News
The good news is that members of our community who participated in the hybrid flex courses on campus have responded remarkably well, rising to meet the standards necessary to keep rates of COVID-19 low. Positivity rates at Emerson are extremely low compared to many of our peers.
The MORE DIFFICULT News
The more difficult news is that the onset of colder weather has been accompanied by an increase in the number of positive COVID tests in Boston and around the United States. We’ve also seen a slight increase in the number of positive cases and individuals identified as close contacts within our community. These are strong reminders that we cannot let our guard down. As many of you prepare to leave Boston in the next two weeks, please know our goal is to protect not only those of us at Emerson but also the larger community around us, including your family and friends back home.
Going Home Could Be Affected By…
Anyone who tests positive or is identified as a close contact needs to isolate/quarantine themselves. As we know, the quarantine period for a close contact is 14 days. During the time you are in isolation or quarantine, you are not allowed to travel using public or commercial transportation. The CDC strongly recommends that you do not return home during a quarantine or isolation period, even if driven in a private vehicle. With Thanksgiving break less than 14 days from now, please be aware that the need to isolate or quarantine at this point would likely affect the timing of your return home.
Since We’re Now in a HIGHER Risk Period…
The colder weather has driven more activities indoors, increasing the risk of transmission. This is also the time of year when many people typically begin to experience cold or flu symptoms, which are often difficult to distinguish from symptoms of COVID-19. To keep yourselves, our community, and your loved ones protected, please keep in mind these requests:
- Be vigilant about wearing a face covering any time you are within 6 feet of an individual who is not your roommate/housemate.
- Refrain from unnecessary interactions, including eating inside restaurants and sharing meals with individuals not within your immediate circle.
- Increase the frequency with which you wash/sanitize your hands.
- Avoid large crowds or gatherings (and maintain 6 feet of distance, no matter how many people are present).
- Remain in compliance with the testing protocols, and be sure that you receive a negative test within 72 hours prior to any planned travel.
- Get your flu shot, and complete the appropriate documentation on the student health portal.
The key here is to reduce the opportunity for transmission. When taking the proper precautions, you can use public transportation or commercial transportation, dine out, etc., with relative peace of mind. But save those interactions for the times when they are most needed.
A Flu Shot is REQUIRED to Return
As a reminder, this year the state of Massachusetts is requiring that all students receive the seasonal influenza vaccine (a “flu shot”) by December 31, 2020. During the COVID-19 pandemic, flu shots are especially critical to protect yourself and the overall population from respiratory illness, and to decrease the burden on the health care system.
NOTE: If you do not submit documentation of your flu shot, you may be prevented from entering any Emerson building, including your residence hall, until the requirement is met.
- The requirement applies to all students under age 30 who will attend classes or activities on the Boston campus, even once.
- You can get the flu shot in Massachusetts or elsewhere, but documentation must be uploaded into your student health portal.
- Nearby locations include the CVS at the corner of Boylston and Washington streets (next to the Chinatown T station) and Walgreens at 24 School Street.
- The Center for Health & Wellness will hold an immunization clinic next Friday, November 20, from 1:00-3:00 pm. Limited spaces are available and pre-registration is required. Call 617-824-8666 to pre-register.
- You can use the online Flu Vaccine Finder to find a flu shot location near you.
- Requests for medical or religious exemptions can be submitted via the exemption form in your student health portal.
Even if you won’t be on the Boston campus next semester, we strongly recommend that you get a flu shot to protect yourself and others, and to reduce the strain on our health care systems right now.
We are almost there. This community has shown it has what it takes to adjust behavior and make safety a priority. I’m confident we will finish strong.
Vice President and Dean for Campus Life