Dear Emerson Community,
With the fall semester about to start, we are writing to share the current and planned policies and approach to managing COVID-19 on our campus. While we know case numbers are fluctuating around the country, our ongoing conversations and partnerships with medical advisors from Tufts Medical Center and local government give us reason for optimism as the semester begins.
In addition, we will monitor the spread of the monkeypox virus and provide some guidance below. As always, our goal is to ensure that all members of our community feel safe and welcome on campus.
The College has shifted its testing strategy to symptomatic testing for students only. This means College testing will only be available for students who require it after consulting with Health Services. Since the College will no longer use the testing center at 116 Harrison Avenue, all testing will be coordinated on campus.
Asymptomatic individuals are welcome to test themselves for COVID-19 using their own self-administered rapid antigen tests. Health Services will serve students with more acute symptoms and provide further testing recommendations. In addition, reporting mechanisms will be in place and we expect students to report positive test results within 24 hours to Health Services by filling out the self-report form. If students have questions, they should email email@example.com
Employees should consult with their primary care providers about testing if they develop symptoms or have concerns that they may have contracted COVID-19. If you are exposed to someone with COVID-19 or test positive, you should follow the CDC guidance for quarantining and isolation. You do not need to report this to HR.
Please note those who test positive must remain off campus for the first five days of isolation, and if symptoms improve, may return to campus, but must wear a mask at all times until after day 10. If you are exposed to someone with COVID-19 and are up to date with your vaccinations, you can continue to come to campus unless you become symptomatic or test positive for COVID-19.
Note: Employees enrolled in a Harvard Pilgrim health plan through Emerson, and their covered family members, are eligible for reimbursement of up to eight at-home COVID tests per month. Tests must be approved or granted emergency use authorization by the FDA. (View list). For reimbursement instructions, please complete and submit the Harvard Pilgrim COVID Test Reimbursement Form (instructions on form).
Also, a reminder: All individuals can order four free rapid home tests from the federal government, delivered through the U.S. Postal Service, by using the following link: https://special.usps.com/testkits. (You can place a new order now, even if you’ve already received four tests).
November 2022 Update: The federal government is no longer offering free rapid home tests at this time.
The College’s contact tracing program ended in May 2022. Individuals who test positive for COVID-19 will be able to access online instructions for guidance.
On-Campus Quarantine and Isolation
The College has moved to an “isolate in place model,” and no longer provides dedicated spaces on campus for students to quarantine and isolate after they have been exposed or have tested positive for COVID-19. Individuals who test positive will remain in their assigned living space, and will be provided with information on how to safely isolate for the required amount of time, as well as information for their roommates/suitemates. Students with medical situations or concerns who may be impacted by this directive should consult with staff at Health Services and their primary care physician.
Students isolating on campus will be able to leave their spaces to get food from the Dining Center, seek medical assistance, and participate in other limited activities. These students must wear a well-fitting mask during their isolation time period. Masks are available from the College.
Vaccine and Booster
The College policy requiring full vaccination in order to study or work on the Boston campus remains in place. Medical and religious exemptions remain an option for those who require one. We ask that all members of our community remain up to date with all recommended COVID-19 boosters in order to maintain full vaccination, and encourage individuals to check with their primary care provider to discuss booster shot eligibility, if they have questions.
The vaccine and booster(s), in addition to new successful therapies and treatments for COVID-19 patients, are key to allowing us to adjust our protocols as outlined in this message.
Masks are optional in all indoor campus spaces, including academic spaces, except for when visiting Emerson Wellness Center Health Services and Counseling Services. Masks are still strongly encouraged and welcomed in all spaces of our campus.
If you are a student and will be requesting accommodations due to COVID-related concerns, please contact Student Accessibility Services at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you are staff or faculty and will be requesting accommodations due to COVID-related concerns, please contact Human Resources at email@example.com.
Note: Masking continues to be required in the public areas of the Robbins Speech, Language and Hearing Center.
Information Regarding Monkeypox
We are currently monitoring the monkeypox virus, as it has been declared a global health emergency by the World Health Organization (WHO). We will continue to review information from the CDC as it becomes available. We also seek guidance from our partners at Tufts Medical Center, as well as the Boston and Massachusetts departments of public health.
Monkeypox virus is part of the same family of viruses that causes smallpox. Monkeypox symptoms are similar to smallpox symptoms, but milder, and monkeypox is rarely fatal. While there have been many cases of the infection spreading through sexual contact, it is important to know the virus can be spread in other ways. Please see this link for more information CDC Monkeypox Information. We will continue to monitor the monkeypox virus, and will adjust the College’s response accordingly.
In closing, we realize it is difficult to anticipate how COVID-19 and monkeypox will impact our community in the future, and therefore it is important we all remain flexible as we navigate the fall semester. As we have learned, it is important we remain vigilant as we learn to live with the changing course of these viruses, and we also look forward to offering in-person activities, classes, and ways for students, staff, and faculty to engage. We look forward to seeing you soon.
Associate Dean for Campus Life
Director of Emerson Wellness Center
Chief Human Resources Officer
Office of Administration and Finance