Emerson will limit overnight travel in spring semester policy

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Photo: Hongyu Liu

A person walks outside of South Station.

By Charlie McKenna, Editor-in-Chief

Administrators will impose harsh limitations on travel anywhere off-campus this spring in an attempt to limit the spread of the pandemic on campus. 

Students who intend to travel anywhere overnight, including in Boston, are now required to fill out the “Emerson College Travel Registration Form” prior to their departure. During the time they are traveling, students will be denied access to campus. Upon return from their travel, students must get a COVID-19 test at Emerson’s testing site at Tufts Medical Center and then quarantine in their rooms until receiving a negative result. During their quarantine, students’ access to campus buildings will be turned off.

The policy applies to students enrolled in the college’s flex model attending in-person classes or any student who visits the Boston campus regularly. All travel is regulated by the new policy. Currently, Massachusetts requires travelers entering from out of state to fill out the Massachusetts Travel Form, and those from “high-risk” states to quarantine for 14 days upon arrival. Just Vermont and Hawaii are defined as “low-risk” by the state.

Any student caught violating the policy will be referred to the Community Standards office and could face penalties as harsh as removal from the college. 

Vice President and Dean for Campus Life Jim Hoppe wrote in the email announcing the policy that the college implemented the policy in an attempt to curtail the spread of COVID-19 on campus. Cases at Emerson rose sharply last week as the college reported 16 new positive tests—one-third of the cumulative total thus far. Numbers in Massachusetts continue to explode, falling below 2,000 just once this week.

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“We have learned through our experiences with COVID-19 transmission over the course of the fall semester that people who participated in travel were much more likely to contract the virus or be identified as a close contact,” Hoppe wrote. “These types of overnight stays can often lead to increased contact with individuals that lead to exposure to the virus and or being identified as a close contact.”

The new travel policy is the second change the college implemented to its reopening model for the spring semester, after Assistant Vice President for Campus Life and “COVID Lead” Erik Muurisepp announced Friday that testing will now be required every four days as opposed to the weekly mandate imposed for the fall semester.