Emerson to resume in-person classes on Jan. 18

By Frankie Rowley, Content Managing Editor

Emerson will resume in-person classes on Jan. 18 with a slew of extended restrictions college officials announced on Tuesday evening. 

Citing community members’ vigilance and belief that protocols will “serve us well” as the semester continues, Interim President Bill Gilligan gave the go-ahead for in-person classes, but in-person dining and organization meetings will be postponed until Jan. 24. 

Along with the postponement of in-person meetings and dining, Interim President Gilligan also asked students to refrain from socially gathering in indoor spaces through Jan. 24, suggesting Emerson community members “get fresh air outdoors while moving between classes or while traversing the pathways of the Common and Public Garden,” in the community-wide email. 

The announcement to resume in-person classes comes as the college continues to experience its largest surge in COVID-19 cases to date. Since Jan. 3, when the college resumed its testing protocol for the spring semester, the college reported a total of 184 positive COVID-19 tests—16 fewer than the cumulative number of positives reported throughout the entirety of the fall semester. 

Despite the growing number of COVID cases, students should also plan to test twice a week for the “foreseeable future” as they return to campus, Gilligan stated in the email. Students that have tested positive for the virus are exempt from this requirement for the 90 days following their initial positive.

Faculty were also advised to still receive two negative tests three days apart prior to their return to the classroom on the 18th. Emerson’s testing center at Tufts Medical Center will be open on Wednesday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and on Saturday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. this week in order to accommodate this testing requirement. 

Staff are also expected to obtain two negative tests prior to their return and continue to test twice within their first two weeks on campus. 

Gilligan also warned that all restrictions are up for change as the college continues to monitor the situation at Emerson and in Boston, along with guidance from public health officials.

“We will evaluate what is in the best interest of our community to promote safety and we may make adjustments to classroom experiences, residential options, student services, and activities, at our discretion,” he wrote. “Please remember that any statements we make about in-person experiences are not guarantees, as conditions on our campuses may change.”