To rebuild the “Emerson bubble,” the college will operate almost entirely virtually for the first week of its spring semester, according to a community-wide email from Vice President and Dean of Campus Life Jim Hoppe.
The Jan. 2 email stated all students should return to campus by Jan. 11 to complete the two required COVID tests before attending classes in-person on Jan. 18. In contrast to last semester’s once-per-week testing policy, community members will be required to test biweekly through the end of January at least.
In addition to an increase in COVID testing, students are asked to limit activity and avoid large gatherings in order to curb the spread of the highly transmissible Omicron variant.
Students will only be allowed to enter their assigned residence halls until Jan. 18 and public spaces within residence halls will operate at limited capacities. As always, students are required to wear face coverings at all times when they are not in their dorms with their assigned roommates.
Along with the residence halls, other on-campus facilities are also operating with capacity and activity limitations. The dining hall will open Jan. 6 and provide “grab-and-go” meals until Jan. 18, when regular service will commence at breakfast.
The Iwasaki Library will be closed for in-person access until Jan. 18 and the Fitness Center will be closed through Jan. 18. Campus centers including the Student Performance Center and 172 Tremont will be open with limited capacities and functions allowed.
Students may continue to book spaces for academic and personal use via SpaceBook, the email said.
The email also announced that “most student organizations and events” will meet virtually until Jan. 18. On-campus events such as orientation and the spring organization fair, as well as wellness activities like yoga and meditation, are among the events that will take place virtually.
The email notes that despite operating at limited capacities, most campus spaces will be open and staffed.
Students are encouraged to wear KN95 masks instead of cloth masks, as directed by recent medical guidance. As epidemiologist Sandro Galea stated to The Boston Globe, KN95 masks are better than surgical masks and surgical masks are better than cloth masks.
The email invites students to a “COVID Q&A” on Jan. 3 from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. via Zoom to have remaining questions answered by college officials.