This message is to follow up on the message sent earlier by Interim President Gilligan to add more context and details specific to student life on the Boston campus. First off, I would like to thank everyone for their patience and flexibility as we have navigated this most recent return to campus. If the omicron variant was not enough, we also experienced a significant snowstorm and record-breaking frigid temperatures. This combination required quick adjustments to many previously made plans, and again I want to thank everyone for their grace as we managed through this period.
Among our student body, opinion is split between those who wish the College to be more reserved in its decision making and those eager for the College to return more quickly to unrestricted open access. We’ve heard from students on both sides of this issue, and I want to acknowledge those who have reached out to share their questions and concerns. Please know College decisions are made with great thought and discussion, listening closely to community feedback, and advice from our medical consultants. We have been fortunate these past two years to have maintained low positivity rates, and our philosophy of “protecting the Emerson bubble” has served us well. However, we are learning that this approach needs to be adjusted.
The focus of our health and safety protocols is shifting, ensuring we quickly identify and provide support to those who test positive, and recognizing positivity rates will be higher than previously experienced. Unlike the early stages of the pandemic, we are now much better prepared to respond, more knowledgeable about managing the campus, and better protected by vaccines, boosters, and testing protocols. All these factors have influenced College decision-making and allowed for more focused planning.
Noted below are additional updates regarding specific services or functions on the Boston campus.
- Residence Halls: Starting January 18, Boston-based students can enter College residence halls as guests. Please note that all residents and guests must wear the proper mask at all times when interacting in the building. Room capacity limits are still in place, and whenever a member that does not reside in the room/suite is present, all individuals must be wearing a mask. External guests are not permitted to enter residence halls at this time.
- Fitness Center: The Fitness Center will remain closed to the general public until January 24.
- Dining: The Dining Center will continue to operate under a “grab-and-go” model until January 24; however, it will begin to reintroduce more variety and stations as options. The Max Grill, Lion’s Den, Paramount Cafe, and Backstage Deli will open on January 17. These facilities will offer some socially distanced seating (one person per table). We ask the community’s assistance in prioritizing off-campus students for access to these tables.
- Iwasaki Library: The library will reopen for in-person use on January 18.
- Student Organizations: Student organizations are asked to continue to meet remotely through January 24. Please contact a member of the SEAL team for questions about planning future events.
- Athletics: No spectators will be allowed at athletic competitions through January 24.
- Emerson App: If you have not already done so, be sure to complete the attestations on the Emerson App regarding your COVID booster shot. In addition, please sign up for a regular weekly testing sequence and continue to complete the daily symptom checker.
- Navigating campus: Classrooms continued to be arranged to maintain 3 feet of distance between seats. We ask your help to observe elevator limits and not crowd more than the designated posted numbers of people on each car. Wearing your mask at all times when inside a college building is required and recommended in crowded areas on the sidewalks, etc.
Interacting within the City of Boston: Beginning on Saturday, January 15, individuals will be required to show proof of vaccination against COVID-19 in order to enter certain indoor spaces in the City of Boston (and some surrounding cities and towns). More information can be found on the B Together website. Please review that material so you are familiar with and prepared for this change.
Earlier this week, Massachusetts Governor Baker announced the new SMART Health Card which is a downloadable and electronic way to present COVID-19 vaccine records, for vaccines administered and registered in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts only. The City of Boston page also outlines other ways your vaccine records can be stored and used as required by the B Together program.
Any questions about official records of your vaccine should be directed to the site where you received your immunization.
The College COVID management team will continue to meet regularly to assess information, and adjust plans as needed. We ask for your patience and support for all members of the college community as we begin this next transition. As always, please be sure to send your questions to COVID19@emerson.edu, or to the Deanofcampuslife@emerson.edu. Also, staff from Campus Life and other areas of the college will host another COVID Q&A on Tuesday, January 18 from 4:30-5:30 pm. More information on this session is available on EmConnect.
Vice President and Dean, Campus Life