Dining Center to temporarily close following three positive COVID-19 tests among food vendors

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Media: Jin Ko/Courtesy

The view of Emerson’s Dining Center from the Boylston Place alley.

By Andrew Brinker and Charlie McKenna

The Dining Center was temporarily closed for service Wednesday morning after college officials announced three new positive COVID-19 tests among food vendors. 

The closure was announced late Tuesday night through an email from “COVID-19 Lead” Erik Muurisepp out of “an abundance of caution.” Several students confirmed that the Dining Center was still open for service Tuesday night, though diners were only permitted to enter the center through the Boylston Place entrance.

Two of the positive tests turned up in Monday’s testing batch, and the college has since performed “another deep clean” of the center in addition to the three other typical cleanings throughout the day, the email confirmed. 

One of those individuals frequently works in the Dining Center, while the other is an employee at the same vendor who is not typically on campus. Muurisepp said that contact tracing efforts related to those tests are in progress.

The other individual who tested positive was last on campus Friday, Sept. 18 and worked “solely in the Lion’s Den.” The positive test led the college to close the Lion’s Den for the weekend. As of Tuesday night, it remained closed. College officials did not inform students of the closure until an email from Muriseep Tuesday afternoon.

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Muurisepp said the college has been in contact with public health officials and contact tracing efforts did not find any other positive tests relating to that individual. 

Muurisepp’s email indicates that vendors are tested weekly and are required to fill out the college’s symptom tracker. The college had not previously informed community members that vendors are required to be tested. Faculty and staff members were given the option to be tested weekly, but the college has not required it. 

In the past, the college has elected not to reveal whether students, faculty or staff accounted for the positive test results announced on the Emerson COVID-19 dashboard. Muurisepp said the college decided to reveal more details about the positive tests in the name of transparency. 

“In an effort to be as transparent with our community as possible, while also maintaining the confidentiality of our testing program, we are writing to share non-identifying information about the positive cases and the measures we are taking to safeguard the health and wellbeing of our community,” Muurisepp’s email reads.

Muurisepp was not immediately available for comment Tuesday night.