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Update on Fall 2021 Term Planning

Dear members of the Emerson community:

As the vaccine roll-out advances efficaciously in Massachusetts, California, across the nation, and around the world, I am optimistic that the College is also moving toward renewal and recovery. Without question, this has been a difficult academic year, as many of you experienced personal sacrifices and painful loss. Throughout the pandemic, I have been inspired by the commitment of our community to care for each other, to adapt and persevere, to maintain our connections, and to ensure that our campus remains a safe and healthy place to teach, learn and live. All of this gives me hope for our 2021 Fall Term.

In February, the College announced that it would continue its Flex Learning approach for the 2021 Fall Term, with the hope that improving conditions and widening distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine would enable our campuses to move toward a more normative in-person environment of learning and campus activities.

Today, it is with measured optimism that we announce that Emerson expects to return to in-person learning and to a more familiar pre-pandemic, on-campus environment for the 2021 Fall Term. Acknowledging that the Fall Term, beginning on August 31, may be transitional to a fully normative environment of teaching, learning and living, I am confident that our careful and well-researched planning with the aid of excellent medical guidance will enable us to respond quickly and appropriately, just as we did this academic year.

The College will remain both vigilant and adaptive as we follow medical science. The health and wellbeing of our entire community will remain as our highest priority.  

We will require that all students studying on our campuses be vaccinated in order to attend the 2021 Fall Term. It is our expectation that all staff and faculty will be vaccinated before they return to campus. Of course, the College will provide reasonable medical and religious exemptions on an individual basis. For undergraduate students who are unable to come to campus, and for students in graduate programs that do not require in-person learning, we will continue to offer online classes.

As information becomes available in the coming months, more detailed guidance will be issued for graduate studies, which will continue to offer distinct teaching and learning modalities for specific graduate programs, as well as our study abroad programs.

We anticipate offering in-person learning on all campuses, with the understanding that local health guidelines must be followed.

The College will do its very best to facilitate the return of international students to our campuses. The College is aware of all current travel restrictions, as well as current US visa processing delays, and will announce options for students should physical study in Boston not be possible for international students.

Over the coming months, the College will provide faculty and staff with additional details about returning to campus.  Faculty and staff will also have the opportunity to participate in informed discussions with Tufts Medical Center medical experts.  

As always, I thank you for your patience as we begin the process of renewal and planning for our familiar and customary routine of teaching, learning, and living at Emerson College.

Lee Pelton

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