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COVID-19 Update: Spring 2021 Summary

Dear Emerson Students, 

Over the past several weeks, we have sent many updates on how the College plans to handle the Spring 2021 semester as it relates to keeping our community safe from the COVID-19 virus. I am providing this summary email so you have many of these important updates in one place and can use them as reference as you prepare for your return to Boston in the coming weeks. Thank you and please do not hesitate to reach out to us at if you have any questions. 

Spring 2021 testing: To help ensure the safety of our Emerson community and the greater Boston community, all students will be required to test two times per week. Students must sign up for a testing cohort which will allow managing the capacity at the TMC/Emerson test center. 

“Stay In Room” upon arrival to Boston, through February 1: We are asking all students (on and off-campus) to limit the time they leave their residences before in-person classes start on February 1. This is to help limit the spread of the virus among the Emerson and Boston community. We need to use this time to rebuild our “Emerson bubble” so we can have a successful and safe spring term. 

Overnight Travel Policy: As a reminder, we are asking students not to travel overnight outside of the Boston region this term. This is to help limit the spread and limit the potential of contracting the virus or of being identified as a close contact and requiring quarantine. Please refer to the November 23, 2020 email from the Dean of Campus Life.

Update to quarantine guidelines for close contacts: In response to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health Information and Guidance for Persons in Quarantine due to COVID-19 and the COVID-19 Higher Education Control Plan, Emerson College has revised its policy and procedures related to the duration of quarantine for close contacts of people with COVID-19. This went into effect beginning January 1. While the possible incubation period for COVID-19 is still 14 days, a majority of contacts or exposures have incubation periods of fewer than 10 days. Due to this, students may be released from quarantine on DAY 11 of their 14-day quarantine should they have a negative test on Day 7 or 8 AND remain asymptomatic through Day 14.  More information will be shared should someone be identified as a close contact and need to enter quarantine. 

Flu shot: As outlined in the January 1 email from the Dean of Campus Life, per Massachusetts state guidelines, all students must receive a flu shot. Emerson requires that you upload confirmation of this shot into the student health portal before you report to campus. If you have questions please reach out to the Center for Health and Wellness at

Online classes through February 1: The 2021 Spring Term will begin on January 19, as previously scheduled. However, to comply with recent guidance issued by state and local officials, we have made the following changes to Emerson’s 2021 Spring Term reopening schedule for the Boston campus: The Spring Term will begin with online instruction from January 19 through 29; Flex learning in-person classes will begin February 1; No undergraduate classes, except for remote students currently enrolled in online-only courses, will be held on January 21 and 22.

Testing at home and travel to campus / symptoms prior to travel: Should you decide to take a COVID-19 test prior to your travel to Boston, please note: 

  • That test will not release you from the College’s requirements for baseline testing upon arrival. 
  • You must NOT travel to Boston until you receive your results. 
  • If you are experiencing ANY COVID-19 symptoms you must NOT travel to Boston but seek medical guidance where you are. 

If you have tested positive since leaving campus: If you have tested positive for COVID-19 since leaving campus in November, you need to send a copy of that test result to so that it can be recorded.  Per CDC guidance, you will not test again for 90 days from that positive date. 

If you have received the COVID-19 vaccine at home: Even if you have been able to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, you must still continue to take part in Emerson’s testing program. You will also need to complete the daily symptom check in order to access campus spaces. In addition, due to the uncertainty with the virus and vaccine coverage, if you are exposed to a COVID-positive individual and are considered a close contact, you will still be required to quarantine for a full 10 days from exposure (symptom free).  

Thank you, and be well, 
Erik Muurisepp
COVID LeadAVP, Campus Life 

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