College to require increased testing, ‘stay-in-room’ policy for spring move-in

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Photo: Greyson Acquaviva

The college was investigated by the Office of Civil Rights twice in the past five years for complaints of disability discrimination

By Frankie Rowley, Content Managing Editor

A day after delaying the start of the spring semester, college officials on Wednesday detailed plans to resume in-person classes amid an unprecedented surge of COVID-19 both on campus and statewide, with on-campus students required to shelter in place for the first ten days of the semester, and return a negative PCR test within 72 hours of arriving back on campus. 

The slate of new restrictions comes as Emerson continues to undergo a surge in positive COVID-19 tests amongst community members, reporting nearly 100 across the past two weeks. The decision also comes as Massachusetts cases spike to levels last seen during winter 2020—and beyond. 

Beginning Jan. 3, the campus will operate under a “stay in room directive” until Jan. 18, wrote Vice President and Dean for Campus Life Jim Hoppe in a Wednesday morning email. Under the directive, students will only be permitted to leave their residences for COVID-19 testing, meals, medical appointments, work, and to retrieve their mail. Residential student move-in begins Jan. 7. 

As a result of the order, non-residential students will be barred from entering any of the college’s residence halls until Jan. 18. 

Along with the new directive, students will also be required to receive a PCR test 72 hours prior to their return back to campus, Hoppe said. Following their test, students must also complete an attestation of a negative test 24 hours before their return to campus to restore their access to campus buildings. Rapid tests will not satisfy the testing requirement. 

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Students who have tested positive since the conclusion of fall semester classes will receive a 90-day exemption from the testing regiment due to still being able to generate a positive test result up to 90 days after contracting COVID-19. All students who have had COVID-19 should email healthservices@merson.edu to receive an exemption. 

All on-campus dining facilities are set to open on Jan. 6 and will provide “grab and go” meals until normal in-person dining operations resume on Jan. 18, Hoppe said. 

Apart from the dining facilities, all other campus buildings, excluding campus center venues such as 172 Tremont and the Student Performance Center, will be closed until Jan. 18. Campus Center venues will be eligible for individual bookings for personal or academic use during this time. 

Students should plan to return back to campus no later than Jan. 11 to ensure they receive both tests required to attend in-person classes on Jan. 18, Hoppe said. 

Students should also expect the majority of on-campus events, such as spring orientation and the spring organization fair, to be held remotely. Student organizations will not be permitted to meet in-person until Jan. 18, Hoppe said. 

More information regarding restrictions for international students, Emerson Los Angeles students and students attending Kasteel Well will be released in the coming weeks, Hoppe said.