Emerson achieves its first week with no new positives reported


Hongyu Liu

A sign of the COVID testing site of Emerson College and Tufts University.

By Frankie Rowley, Content Managing Editor

Emerson reported no new positive COVID-19 test results last week—the first week of regular testing in which the college reported no positives across both the fall and the spring semesters. 

The only other week in which the college reported no positive test results was the first three days of testing in August—when no positives cropped up among 32 tests. 

The lack of positives comes on the heels of an unprecedented COVID surge at Emerson, which prompted college officials to impose a week-long shut down of almost all activity on campus. From March 29 to April 18, Emerson reported 61 positive tests—accounting for 37 percent of the positives reported during the spring semester and more than the college racked up over the course of the entire fall semester. 

Over that time frame, 51 positives came across just two weeks of testing, and at one point, 81 students were in quarantine or isolation housing on campus. It is unclear how many students were relegated to off-campus quarantine or isolation, as the college does not report those figures. 

Monday’s dashboard update also reported zero community members in on-campus isolation and quarantine, respectively. This time last week, 21 people were reported to be in on-campus isolation and 29 were in on-campus quarantine.

“It was a huge week,” Erik Muurisepp, assistant vice president for campus life and “COVID Lead” said in an interview with The Beacon. “It seems that we have been able to stop it spreading on campus. I think it’s thanks to everyone following all the protocols.

Muurisepp attributed the lack of positives partly to the institution of the heightened restrictions earlier this month, as well as the continued rollout of vaccines in the area.

“While we know the numbers of vaccinations are still low, especially in the Emerson community, I think this is just helping, overall, the Commonwealth and the city of Boston sensation, and as vaccination numbers go up, the presence of the virus is going down.”

Previously, three positives was the lowest number reported in a week during the spring semester, which occurred during the week of Mar. 9. In the fall, Emerson reported one positive over the course of seven separate weeks of testing. 

The bevy of restrictions, which prevented students from dining in Emerson’s on-campus dining facilities, cancelled all non-academic activities—including student productions—and only allowed students to leave residence halls for essential activities such as classes and COVID-19 testing, were imposed on April 7 and lifted a week later on April 14. A ban on students visiting others in the residence halls lasted until April 22. 

Since the restrictions were lifted, Emerson has reported 10 positive tests, all recorded during the week of April 14. 

In the fall semester, Emerson shut down campus life on the precipice of students heading home for Thanksgiving break, but positive tests remained high in the ensuing weeks amid a statewide surge.

Now, cases in the state are on the decline following a brief climb earlier this month and vaccinations are continuing to be administered at an increasing rate.