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Keeping the Campus Safe: Update to COVID Protocols

Dear members of the Emerson community:

I am writing today to provide the community with an update on our COVID-19 protocols as the spring term begins. As you know, the Omicron variant of COVID-19 has required us to maintain our vigilance to ensure the health and safety of our community as we continue operations on the Boston campus. Over the past few weeks our COVID operations team has been working daily to monitor the situation and make adjustments as needed and recommended by local, state and federal officials. We thank you for your cooperation and patience as we continue to mitigate the risks to campus and our community. 

Over the past few weeks we have learned that the current state of spread for this latest variant  suggests that it may enter our campus despite our current health and safety measures. One recent indicator of this is a significant increase in cases on our campus – more than at any other time period during the pandemic. Although, to the best of our knowledge, all known and reported cases have resulted in minimal to mild symptoms due to the efficacy of the vaccine and boosters, we have determined that additional modifications to our protocols are needed.

Effective today, January 7, 2022, Emerson will adopt the following quarantine and isolation protocols following consultation with state and local health professionals and updated guidance from the CDC and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.  

QUARANTINE (for those exposed to a positive case):

  • Any individual who has not yet received the Booster AND has been exposed to a positive person MUST quarantine for five days
    • Unvaccinated individuals: The CDC recommends that unvaccinated individuals be tested immediately after the exposure to quickly determine infection and, if the test is negative, be tested five to seven days after the last exposure to help inform duration of quarantine.
  • Students can complete this quarantine where they currently live and will not be required to move to a quarantine space. Residential students will remain in their assigned rooms during this five-day quarantine period – no moves will need to take place. 
    • Students are not permitted to attend in-person classes during this period.
  • All individuals must remain masked through their quarantine period when around any other individuals to prevent potential spread (in room, bathroom, when leaving to get food to eat in their room) .
    • Masks may be removed for eating and sleeping only
  • Individuals in quarantine will need to refrain from eating in the Dining Center, going to fitness center, or attending events within close quarters to others during this period.
    • After the five-day period students may attend classes
  • Post quarantine, individuals will continue to test as part of the College testing process (two times within every seven days)

ISOLATION (positive cases)

  • As suggested by the CDC and MDPH, Emerson will now require a five-day isolation period.
  • The date of the positive test will serve as DAY ZERO (Note: This is different from our previous practice where day zero would be at the start of symptoms). 
  • If symptoms are decreasing or gone (and fever-free for 24 hours), an individual can be released on Day 6 – 
    • No antigen test is required
    • Students will need a consultation and review with a staff member from Center for Health and Wellness prior to release 
  • Individuals MUST wear a well-fitting mask at all times around any other individual on Days 6-10 – this includes while in bedrooms for resident students except for eating and when sleeping. 
  • On Days 6-10, individuals are not permitted to eat in the Dining Center (due to the need to remove masks to eat, etc., but will have access to grab-and-go dining), visit the Fitness Center, or attend events within close quarters to others. 
  • Students can attend classes on Days 6-10 while remaining fully masked and if they continue to remain asymptomatic / improving symptoms.
  • Employees can return to in-person work on Day 6 with these same restrictions. 
  • If any symptoms return for any individual, then they should return to isolation asap.

Please be aware that the College reserves the right to adjust these guidelines as necessary. 

For all members of the community: Please remember that well-fitting masks are still required in all indoor college spaces (except for when alone in a private room or office). Surgical and/or three-layer cloth masks are acceptable. Single layer cloth masks and gaiters are not.

We know the changing guidance and impact of the virus on our community can cause confusion and we thank you for your cooperation and patience as we work to ensure the safety and health of everyone within our community. We will continue to share significant updates with the community as they arise.

William P. Gilligan, Interim President
Erik Muurisepp, COVID Lead

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