Happy New Year! We hope you are enjoying a safe and refreshing break. We wanted to remind you — and answer some questions — about the new Travel Registration Policy for the Boston campus this term.
Travel Registration Policy Q&A
Q: Why did the College create this policy?
A: Over the Fall semester, we saw a correlation between students who left their primary residence overnight and those who received positive COVID-19 test results. In particular, this was the case for individuals who traveled home, and often felt safer because they only traveled locally, or were going to a “safe state.” With cases rising across the United States, and winter temperatures limiting the ability to be outside, the College needs to take extra steps to alleviate additional risks to the community.
Q: What does the weather have to do with this?
A: The great (warm!) weather we experienced most of the Fall semester allowed many activities to take place outside. Research has shown that prolonged contact indoors increases risk of exposure, and our community experienced an uptick in positive test results in mid-to-late November as the weather forced more people inside for longer periods of time.
Q: How can the College tell me I can’t travel?
A: To be clear, we are not prohibiting students from traveling. We are asking you to carefully consider the potential risk to yourself and other community members that traveling would pose, and to avoid travel that is not necessary (which we also did in the Fall). We realize, however, that some travel is required. If you need to travel, you are expected to register your travel so that we can better manage your return to the campus community. We found that many individuals who traveled throughout the Fall did not follow the safety protocols (such as testing upon return and quarantining until receiving a negative test result).
Q: How does the College define travel?
A: For the purposes of this policy, travel is considered leaving your primary residence (on- or off-campus housing) overnight and staying with individuals who are not part of the Emerson community.
Q: Does this mean if I live on campus and have a significant other who lives off campus, I can spend the night there and not have to fill out this form?
A: Yes, if you are spending the night with a significant other who lives in the Boston area or is a member of the campus community, you do not have to fill out this form or quarantine upon return. The point is to limit the number of individuals you have close contact with, especially those who you are not interacting with on a regular basis.
Q: Why is limiting our number of close contacts important?
A: A close contact is someone whom you have had face-to-face contact, closer than 6 feet apart for 15 minutes or longer, with or without a mask. When someone tests positive for COVID, they are contacted by a contact tracer and interviewed. Anyone who is identified as a close contact of the positive individual is required to enter quarantine for up to 14 days.
Q: Is this tied to the symptom checker? If I am out of the residence hall past midnight, am I considered to be traveling and subject to this policy?
A: No, this is not connected to the symptom checker timeframe and you are only subject to this policy if you meet the definition of travel as noted above.
Q: Will the College do surveillance to try and catch people not complying with this policy?
A: We do not plan to monitor students, and are relying on students to follow the policy as requested. If the College receives a report that someone has not followed the policy, then that person would be referred to the Office of Community Standards.
Q: What happens if I am found to have violated this policy?
A: We’re relying on the community to follow this policy, so the severity of the consequences for anyone found in violation will vary, depending on the impact to the community.
Q: I travel home each weekend to work or for medical appointments. Does this policy mean I have to quit my job or quarantine upon each return?
A: If you have a regular routine that requires you to travel, please let us know and we can discuss an exemption to this requirement.
Q: There’s no way to ensure compliance with this policy, because there’s no way for the College to know every time a student travels. Why do it?
A: No policy is foolproof or guarantees safety or success. Like many of the protocols put into place so far to address the reality of COVID-19, this policy is designed to help mitigate an manage levels of risk.
Q: I have more questions, who should I contact?
A: You can email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call the Campus Life suite at 617-824-8640. If calling by telephone, you should ask to speak with Jim Hoppe, Erik Muurisepp, or Chris Daly.
Please let us know of other questions! Our goal is to provide you with tools to help keep yourself and the community safe.
Team Campus Life