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Decision Regarding Spring Athletics Season

Dear members of the Emerson community:

On Monday, March 1, the New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) announced that its Presidents’ Council had outlined a path forward for collegiate athletics in the upcoming Spring 2021 season with required enhanced safety precautions and standards for student-athletes, coaches, officials and game personnel. As part of this decision, the conference will require ongoing testing, universal masking and other modifications to game management standards.

These additional precautions exceed the current NCAA guidance for spring sports.

After careful consideration, the College has decided to support the participation of our Spring athletics programs in the NEWMAC competition, beginning March 13 along with other participating members of the NEWMAC.

This decision affects the following Emerson spring sports teams: baseball, softball, and men’s and women’s lacrosse, which will follow a shortened season and abbreviated schedules created by NEWMAC. All spring competitions will take place outdoors, and all home games for most teams will take place at Rotch Field, 30 Randolph Street, in Boston.

Spectators will not be allowed at any games. Athletes will dress for competition while at Emerson prior to leaving, and return to the bus immediately upon completion without using facilities at the host site.  Interaction between students from different institutions is limited to time on field. 

The College’s announcement comes after extended deliberation about the health and safety of our community. The decision to participate was made after careful assessment of:

  • Available data, including improving local and on-campus COVID trends;
  • Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker’s announcement to lift certain restrictions on local businesses and increase capacity limits for gatherings beginning March 1;
  • The City of Boston’s intention to lift some restrictions beginning March 22;
  • Assessment that participating colleges and universities have safety protocols and Spring Term positivity rates comparable or favorable to our own;
  • The knowledge that all competitions for spring sports will be held outside; and
  • Athletes have been practicing in small “practice pods” of 7 – 8 students and will continue to follow NCAA and NEWMAC guidelines developed to minimize risk of exposure.

In addition, Emerson will require all athletes to follow a number of additional restrictions beyond those implemented by NEWMAC to ensure their safety, and that of the Emerson community. We are confident that these restrictions will reduce the risk, and we intend to monitor their progress daily and weekly to ensure these requirements are met:

The College has developed additional restrictions that exceed NEWMAC safety measures:

  1. Athletes will be required to participate in a thrice weekly COVID testing program at the Tufts Medical Center. Any missed test will require the athlete to be excluded from practice and play for that week.
  2. The College will not permit overnight travel for individual athletes.
  3. Any athlete, at any time, can choose to opt out of the spring NEWMAC competition.
  4. The teams will also continue to follow current health and safety policies that restrict the number of athletes who practice together.
  5. Jim Hoppe, Vice President and Dean for Campus Life, will oversee and manage testing and compliance by Spring athletes. If safety protocols are not properly followed or an unacceptable positivity rate occurs, the College will either pause or withdraw an Emerson team from further participation in NEWMAC contests.

As infection rates in the city and state, as well as on campus, continue to decline, the College is also prepared to review our policies on in-person gatherings, and adjust them should governmental and health guidelines permit.

I am confident that our decision reflects the One Emerson goal of providing the most enriching in-person experience we can for members of our student body, while also maintaining health and safety on campus.

Lee Pelton

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