In a shift of prior guidance, Emerson will not transition to a mask-optional policy on Sept. 17, instead extending the college’s requirement that all community members wear a mask indoors indefinitely as the college continues to rack up positive COVID-19 tests.
Along with the indefinite extension of the mask requirement, Emerson also intends to continue to prohibit non-Emerson guests from entering on-campus buildings though some exceptions will be allowed, “COVID Lead” and Associate Vice President for Campus Life Erik Muurisepp said in an email announcing the policy Wednesday. All requests for campus access by non-community members must be approved by the appropriate vice president or dean in consultation with the college’s COVID team.
“This policy will help the College limit virus exposure to our community,” Muurisepp wrote.
The Wednesday afternoon announcement comes amid a statewide resurgence of the virus — Massachusetts reported more than 2,000 coronavirus cases in a single day for the first time in five months last week. At Emerson, 33 community members have tested positive for the virus since fall semester testing began on Aug. 23.
Thus far, Emerson has racked up significantly more positive tests than this time a year ago. In Fall 2020, 11 community members had tested positive by Sept. 13. On Sept. 13, Emerson had reported 32 positives this fall.
Muurisepp said Wednesday that none of the positive tests accumulated this fall resulted from in-classroom transmission.
“This can be attributed to your cooperation with the policies we have put in place,” he wrote. “We thank you for that.”