What You Need To Know

Things look a little different across campus as we work together to minimize the spread of COVID-19. What remains unchanged is our commitment to providing an environment where everyone can learn and succeed.

Frequently Asked Questions

The following answers to frequently asked questions contain key information related to the reopening of Merrimack College. We will continue to share updates and information directly with the campus community through email and this page as new information becomes available. If a question you have is not answered below, please contact the Task Force.

General Safety Policies

Are there documents that I must complete to enter campus?

Yes. Anyone entering Merrimack College, you must do the following:

Everyone accessing campus must:

  • Show a Mack ID or other form of photo identification

  • Wear a face covering.

  • Follow social distancing policies of six feet or more.

  • Self-identify any COVID-19 symptoms and answer the following questions before seeking entrance onto campus:

    • Have you traveled outside of the country or to any state designated by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts as “restricted” in the past 14 days? (Please note states designated by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts as higher risk may change. Please visit www.mass.gov/matraveler for up-to-date information regarding the Massachusetts COVID-19 Travel Order).

    • Have you or anyone in your household experienced COVID-19 symptoms in the past 14 days?

    • Have you or any member of your household been diagnosed with COVID-19 in the past 14 days? 

What entrance is open to enter campus?

Campus can be accessed through two entrances:

  1. entrance off Route 125
  2. main entrance off Elm Street

Important note: During periods of heavy traffic, the main entrance off Elm Street may be diverted to Rock Ridge Road. We advise all those entering through the Elm Street side to watch for signage indicating the entrance has temporarily moved to Rock Ridge Road.

For more detailed guidelines on entering campus visit our Health and Safety website.

Are visitors allowed on campus? Where is the Merrimack College guest registration form?

Generally, visitors and guests are prohibited from campus with exceptions including visiting parents and family, admissions visitors, essential vendors and contractors, and Islander hockey participants. All visitors must:

There will be no exceptions unless approved by the Office of the Executive Vice President.

Merrimack College Guest Registration

Do I have to wear a face covering while on campus?

As of Friday, November 6, and per the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, face coverings are required indoors and outdoors regardless of social distancing. Face coverings have been required on Merrimack’s campus since the summer. However, per the Governor’s order, face coverings are to be worn in public whether you are in a group or alone. This includes any public activity someone does on their own such as walking or running.

Members of the campus community should wear face coverings while congregating with others, including while driving in a car, hanging out with friends, colleagues and members of their residential cohorts.

Please be extra diligent about keeping your face covering over your nose and mouth, even while alone.

Health, Safety and Testing

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

Signs and symptoms of COVID-19 include:

  • Fever of 100.4°
  • Chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle aches
  • Headache
  • Loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • New gastrointestinal symptoms
  • Pain, swelling or rash on toes or fingers

Many of these symptoms are also similar to the flu, but must be treated as possible COVID-19. More information about the flu vaccine can be found at www.merrimack.edu/flu.

If you have any COVID-19 symptoms while away from the College, do not return to campus. Call your medical provider and notify the College to report symptoms. Students must call (978) 837-5441 to inform the College of their symptoms. Employees must contact Human Resources or call (978) 837-5157 to inform the College of their symptoms. If you live on campus and have any symptoms, please do not leave your room and call (978) 837-5441.

Who do I call if I have any symptoms of COVID-19?

Any students who become symptomatic while on campus must immediately isolate and notify Hamel Health (978) 837-5441. Commuter students will be directed to return home and arrange for COVID-19 testing and evaluation from their primary care provider. For residential students, the College will provide guidance on how to access local COVID-19 testing facilities for urgent, diagnostic testing.

What should I do if I experience COVID-19 symptoms while on campus?

If you are a student and become symptomatic while on campus, you must immediately call 978-837-5441 to be evaluated by a tele-health professional and be directed to a testing facility. The College has engaged the services of a local testing facility for emergency testing for residential students. If you are a commuter student and experience symptoms, you should immediately call your personal healthcare provider for direction and not return to campus.

If you are an employee and experience symptoms while on campus, you should inform your supervisor, leave campus immediately and contact your personal healthcare provider.

Who is getting tested for COVID-19?

All members of the Merrimack College campus community will participate in a robust COVID-19 surveillance testing program. Evidence suggests that COVID-19 can spread through close contact with people who are infected with the virus causing COVID-19, but are without any symptoms of illness (asymptomatic). Therefore, frequent and routine testing of the campus population will help us to identify anyone who may be infected with the virus causing COVID-19 and not know it. This asymptomatic surveillance testing program, in addition to other mitigation strategies, will help Merrimack prevent a widespread campus outbreak through the early identification and isolation of anyone who may have COVID-19 unknowingly.

Who is conducting the on campus COVID-19 testing?

Merrimack College is participating in the college testing program entitled, “The Safe for School” Program by the Broad Institute. The Broad Institute is a Harvard and MIT laboratory that developed the SARS CoV2 testing program in order to help colleges and universities safely reopen their campuses this year. Merrimack College is also partnering with the clinical support company, On Site Medical Services, provides clinical personnel and processing support to the on-campus testing center.

What is the schedule of COVID-19 testing for students, faculty and staff?

All members of the Merrimack College campus community are participating in the robust COVID-19 surveillance testing program. Evidence suggests that COVID-19 can spread through close contact with people who are infected with the virus causing COVID-19, but are without any symptoms of illness (asymptomatic). Therefore, frequent and routine testing of the campus population will help us to identify anyone who may be infected with the virus causing COVID-19 and not know it. This asymptomatic surveillance testing program, in addition to other mitigation strategies, helps Merrimack prevent a widespread campus outbreak through the early identification and isolation of anyone who may have COVID-19 unknowingly.

Merrimack is using the Broad CRSP SARS-CoV-2 RT-PCR Diagnostic Assay. This is an in vitro qualitative test designed to detect the presence of the genomic material of the SARS-CoV-2 novel coronavirus, which is the pathogen responsible for COVID-19. Nasal mucous will be collected via an anterior nasal swab of each nostril (not a deep nasopharyngeal swab).

A positive test result indicates there is currently the SARS-CoV-2 virus in your system, which is the virus that causes COVID-19. A negative result indicates there is no SARS-CoV-2 virus detected in your system. It does not tell us any information about past infection or immunity.

SCHEDULING
Baseline: Prior to returning to campus, all students, faculty and staff will be scheduled for a baseline test, the week of January 25

  • Residential students will complete their baseline test on the day of their move-in January 27-January 29.
  • Commuter students will complete their baseline testing the weekend of January 30 and 31.
  • Faculty and staff will complete their baseline test on the first day that they return to work or during the week of January 25.

Bi-Weekly Ongoing: Beginning the week of February 1, all on-campus students, faculty and staff will take part in twice a week COVID-19 testing until the week of May 3.

Faculty, staff, undergraduate and graduate commuter students should select days for testing when they are already planning to be on campus. Students, faculty and staff who are exclusively remote will not be a part of the surveillance testing protocol. For students who have an onsite fellowship and are taking their courses exclusively online, please speak with the program director regarding testing. Employees working on a rotating remote/on-campus schedule will need to be part of the regular twice a week testing protocol.

For questions about an exception to surveillance testing twice a week please contact the Task Force.

  • All residential students will be scheduled for a baseline test by the College, which will occur on the day of their move-in during the week prior to the start of classes, the week of January 25. Following the baseline test, students will continue with twice a week surveillance testing based on their self-selected days, which will begin the week of February 1 and will continue until the week of May 3.
  • Commuter students will complete their baseline testing the weekend of January 30 and 31, and will then follow their self-selected recurring twice a week COVID-19 surveillance test schedule, which will begin the week of February 1 and continue until the week of May 3.
  • Graduate students will complete their baseline testing the weekend of January 30 and 31, or upon move-in for residential graduate students. Graduate students will then follow their self-selected recurring twice a week COVID-19 surveillance schedule, which will begin the week of February 1 and continue until the week of May 3.
  • Faculty and staff will complete their baseline testing the week of January 25 on a self-selected day and time. Those who cannot complete their baseline test during that week will complete their baseline test the first week of classes. Weekly COVID-19 surveillance tests will begin the week following the baseline test and continue until the week of May 3. 

STUDENTS, FACULTY AND STAFF WHO PREVIOUSLY TESTED POSITIVE FOR COVID-19

In the last 90 days, any student, faculty or staff member who tested positive for COVID-19 outside of Merrimack College’s Surveillance Testing Protocol should notify the College. Faculty and staff should contact Human Resources at humanresources.covid@merrimack.edu and students should contact Hamel Health at hamelhealth@merrimack.edu.

Those students, faculty or staff should still sign-up for bi-weekly testing appointments, however do not report for testing until 90 days have passed since the positive test result. If a positive test result was received at the College’s testing center, or Hamel Health or the Task Force has been notified of the positive test result from an outside testing site, then the CoVerified App will show restricted when the 90 days are up, signaling it is time to return to the testing protocol.

How will I know the results of my test?

Merrimack College will be using the CoVerified Application to support the College mitigation and surveillance testing plan. This web-based and smartphone application will be specific to the Merrimack College community and will allow users to: gain campus entrance clearance through daily screening, report symptoms, receive test results and access other COVID-19 education and mitigation strategies. Before returning to campus all students, faculty and staff will be directed on how to download the app.

When will I get the COVID-19 vaccine?

COVID-19 VACCINATION

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts has prioritized groups to be vaccinated through a phased delivery approach prioritizing first responders and COVID-19 outward facing medical personnel. Next in this phased approach to be vaccinated is the at-risk population, with the general population following. Merrimack College is working with the Commonwealth in an effort to become a COVID-19 vaccination center, and will follow the state’s predetermined phased delivery of vaccinations. The College will update the campus community regarding vaccinations as more information becomes available.

Beginning the week of January 11, members of the Merrimack community who are eligible under the state’s phased approach will be vaccinated. At this time this includes Testing Center personnel, medical staff and the MCPD. As the state moves beyond this first phase of vaccinations, the College will provide more information regarding subsequent phases and the potential a vaccination center could be on campus.

At this time the state is recommending that all vaccinated individuals continue to follow COVID-19 protocols regarding face coverings, social distancing, continue surveillance testing and follow existing quarantine rules should they be identified as a close contact of a positive case. As a result, at this time the College will not alter its current policies for those members of the community who have been vaccinated.

I have been vaccinated for COVID-19 do I have to continue to be tested?

Yes, you will still need to participate in surveillance testing if you get the COVID-19 vaccination.

At this time the state is recommending that all vaccinated individuals continue to follow COVID-19 protocols regarding face coverings, social distancing, continue surveillance testing and follow existing quarantine rules should they be identified as a close contact of a positive case. As a result, at this time the College will not alter its current policies for those members of the community who have been vaccinated.

Who do I call if I test positive for COVID-19?

Students should notify Hamel Health at (978) 837-5441. Employees should notify humanresources.covid@merrimack.edu.

What happens if I test positive for COVID-19?

If you are a student and test positive with an on-campus based test, you will be notified by College officials and must follow self-isolation protocols. These protocols require students to move out of their campus residence for the duration of the isolation period, returning home where possible. Students should enact their predetermined departure plan. If returning home is not possible, you will isolate in a College-based location. In conjunction with the appropriate government health agency, Merrimack College will undertake contact tracing following your positive test. If you receive a positive test from a personal health care provider, you must call 978-837-5441 about your status.

If you are a Merrimack employee, you should immediately alert the Office of Human Resources if you test positive for COVID-19. In conjunction with the appropriate government health agency, Merrimack College will undertake contact tracing following your notification. Contact tracing will include a conversation to determine potential exposures on campus. If you test positive for COVID-19, but have not been on campus more than 48 hours prior to symptom onset, you are still asked to inform Human Resources of your diagnosis.

What happens if there is an outbreak on campus and the College needs to shut down?

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts requires the College to have a shutdown protocol in place before move-in. In the event of a major outbreak on campus, or by order of the government, the College reserves the right to evacuate the campus and send students home for a short (2-3 days) or long periods (7-10 days) of remote learning to contain the outbreak. Following the containment, the College would then bring students back to campus. The College will do its best to give students and families 24 hours notice in the event a shutdown must take place.

The College may experience an increase or cluster of COVID-19 infections due to the congregational nature of a residential college campus. In order to identify a potential campus outbreak of COVID-19, Merrimack will be working in close collaboration with local public health authorities, identified through symptomatic reports or asymptomatic surveillance testing. In consultation with local and state public health authorities, the College will respond with a temporary or full campus shutdown, should such an event occur. All students, faculty and staff will be notified and evacuation procedures will be implemented.

The College’s planning, and efforts around testing, and community responsibility position Merrimack to remain open. Only in the event of a government order, or significant health crisis on campus would we expect to close. If Merrimack must close the campus, it will move to remote work and learning, for a temporary period of time and then resume face to face classes when appropriate.

How is the College ensuring the health and safety of all students, faculty and staff?

The College has made significant investments in upgraded cleaning protocols; electrostatic sanitizing sprayers; EPA-registered, COVID-19-killing green cleaning solutions; additional cleaning staff and other enhanced cleaning strategies.

To increase social distancing and protect the health and safety of our students, faculty and staff during this pandemic, we have additionally invested millions of dollars in campus alterations and configurations, as well as new classroom technologies aimed at enhancing the student learning experience. The College is also investing more than $6M in universal testing across campus for all students, faculty and staff. This large endeavor is about ensuring the safety of our students, and mitigating an outbreak on campus. Symptom monitoring, testing and tracing are the best way to stop COVID-19 spread. 

Cleaning and Hygiene Installations

  • 300+ Hand sanitizer dispensers (wall-mounted and stands)
  • 200 Wet Wipe dispensers
  • 19 Electrostatic sanitizing sprayers
  • 55 Gallon self-dispensing sanitizer drums

Physical Barriers and Touchless Solutions Investments

  • 200+ Plexiglass Barriers in offices and classrooms (rolling for professors)
  • 357 Touchless plumbing sensors
  • 63 Occupancy light sensors
  • 142 Kick down door stops
  • 200 Step-and-Pull for doors
  • 1300 Dormitory room dividers

Can I purchase Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) at the bookstore?

Yes, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) will be available for purchase in the Bookstore. For certain labs, specific PPE will be required. This will be assigned to you similar to books required for class.  Student PPE Kits available through the Bookstore will include face coverings, face shields, goggles, gloves and gowns.

I tested positive for COVID-19 and I was told I do not need to be tested again for 90 days, once the 90 days are over will I need to be part of the testing protocol for the Spring semester?

Yes, anyone who tested positive will resume participation in the campus COVID-19 surveillance testing program 90 days after testing positive with a molecular PCR test. See the Center for Disease Control website for more information.

I tested positive for COVID-19 during the Fall semester, will I be required to quarantine if I am identified as a close contact of someone who tests positive in the Spring semester?

Anyone who has tested positive with a molecular PCR test within 90 days will not need to be quarantined if they are exposed, or considered a close contact of someone with COVID-19 symptoms or a positive COVID-19 test result during that 90 day period of time. Following the 90 day period, anyone deemed a close contact will need to quarantine.

I tested positive for COVID-19 during the Fall semester, will I need to be tested in the Spring semester?

Anyone who has tested positive with a molecular PCR test (the test utilized by Merrimack College) should not re-test for COVID-19 for 90 days after their positive test result. After 90 days, anyone who tested positive for COVID-19 will return to the campus testing protocols.

What are the hours for the testing center?

The testing center will be open during the spring semester Monday-Friday, 7 a.m.-6 p.m. 

Academics - Student Options to Enroll

What are my learning and housing options for the spring?

As a student, you have four options for proceeding with your education for the academic year 2020-2021:

  1. I intend to take spring classes as a residential student: Students who choose this option will live on campus, will participate in the COVID-19 testing protocol, will be able to select all course modalities (hybrid, on-campus or remote), and will be able to utilize all campus resources.
  2. I intend to take spring classes as a commuter student: Students who choose this option will be able to come to campus, will participate in the COVID-19 testing protocol, will be able
    to select all course modalities (hybrid, on-campus or remote), and will be able to utilize all campus resources.
  3. I intend to take spring classes remotely: Students who choose this option will not be part of the COVID-19 testing protocol, will not be able to come to campus, will register for remote only classes where possible, and if necessary, will register for classes that are designated hybrid or on-campus, but will take them remotely.
  4. I intend to take a leave of absence during the Spring semester: Students who choose this option will not be part of the COVID-19 testing protocol, will not be able to come to campus, and will not take any Merrimack courses.

Students will not be able to register for a course before selecting their enrollment intention for the spring. Once students have designated their intention (residential, commuter, remote or leave of
absence) they will be able to register for classes.

Please note: Resident and Commuter Students may take Remote only classes. Remote students may take 98% of on-ground and hybrid classes.

Any students who wish to change their intention should update their selection on MyMack. A form will be available should students want to change their intention. Students who have questions should
contact the Task Force.

Graduate students will follow the same MyMack registration process and are encouraged to consult with their program director regarding planning for registration. Students are encouraged to register as
soon as they are eligible.

If I choose to take classes remotely for the Fall 2020 semester can I come back as a residential student for the Spring 2021 semester?

Yes, students will be welcome back as a residential student for the Spring 2021 semester.

Can I take a Leave of Absence for 2020-2021 or defer my admission?

If you are a new student, you can take a one-year leave of absence without reapplying or defer for one year. If you select this option, you will not be enrolled in courses at the College, and, as a result, will not be able to participate in any College-sponsored on-campus or online programming unless otherwise noted, and will not be able to access campus. Athletes considering this option should consult their coach regarding the impact on eligibility. To select this option, you must fill out a Leave of Absence form. Certain programs such as nursing and teacher education that require state licensure may be exempt. Students should follow up with their Program Directors.

If I’m an incoming freshman (or returning junior) and I opt to take classes remotely, will I receive my new iPad?

New iPads for incoming freshmen and juniors will be mailed home to students who are opting to take classes remotely.

If I opt to take a semester off will I have to pay a fee to transfer credits if I take classes at another college?

Yes. There will be a fee of $100 per credit taken at another college.
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Academics - Classes

Will classes be held online or in person in the spring?

As in the fall, the College will be offering approximately 1,100 undergraduate and graduate course sections this spring. The majority of students will have some combination of on-campus and remote courses. As part of our de-densification efforts, as well as to accommodate students who may need to take classes remotely due to illness, self-isolation or quarantine, many on-campus courses will include hybrid and remote components. In order to provide clear expectations for students, the College has developed definitions for our three main types of course modalities. In MyMack, students will be able to search by class type (lecture, lab, etc.) and by the following course modalities.

On-Campus: Instruction is delivered through face-to-face meetings held at regular meeting times in a dedicated physical space; the learner and the instructor are physically located in the same place at the same time. Students are expected to attend class in person. In order to accommodate remote learners as well as students required to isolate or quarantine, some classes will offer the content asynchronously (which means that content is available online for students to access when it best suits their schedules, and assignments are completed according to deadlines) while others will have a multi-modal live experience. (Note: There are a handful of laboratory sections with no remote option. These sections will be identified in MyMack as on-campus onlyno remote option.)

Hybrid: Hybrid learning combines real-time, face-to-face teaching whereby some traditional face-to-face contact hours are replaced with required synchronous or asynchronous remote instruction. In order to accommodate remote learners as well as students required to isolate or quarantine, some classes will offer the content asynchronously (which means that content is available online for students to access when it best suits their schedules, and assignments are completed according to deadlines) while others will have a multi-modal live experience.

Remote: Remote courses are courses where teaching and learning takes place online in real time. It includes a set class schedule and required login/class meeting times. Using tools like Zoom and Blackboard Collaborate, faculty have designed learning environments meant to engage remote learners. At the undergraduate level, all remote courses will be synchronous, and approximately 25% of all undergraduate courses will be remote only. At the graduate level, the percentage of courses that will be remote depends on the program, and there are some remote courses that are asynchronous, which means that content is available online for students to access when it best suits their schedules, and assignments are completed according to deadlines.

While remote-only students are able to register for most on-campus courses, we encourage remote-only students to register for remote courses whenever possible, because these courses are specifically designed with remote learners in mind. Please consult your undergraduate academic advisor or graduate program director if you have any questions regarding course modality.

In the course syllabus, each professor will outline meetings and course expectations at the start of the term. If students are required to have a period of isolation or quarantine, they will engage in remote learning for the duration of that period.

Why are classes being offered in multiple ways?

Regardless of our precautions, some students may self-identify COVID-19 symptoms and be unable to come to campus, or become infected and need to quarantine for 14 days. Additionally, those who come into contact with an infected person, and are identified through contact tracing, will also need to quarantine for 14 days, even if they show no symptoms of being sick with COVID-19. Therefore, access to remote learning for long or short periods of time will be necessary to avoid students falling behind.

How do you know if a class you are taking is only offered remotely?

Student schedules are available on myMack. Remote only classes will also be noted on schedules with a location of (REM).

How will classes be structured to ensure safety?

Students will be required to wear face coverings at all times in the classroom. If you refuse to wear a face covering in class, you will be asked to leave class by the instructor. Refusal to comply with these regulations will lead to disciplinary action. Faculty will utilize a variety of safety options such as wearing a face covering, or teaching from behind rolling plexiglass stands. In addition to hand sanitizer dispensers in all classroom buildings, all classrooms will have disinfectant wipes that students and faculty can use to wipe down individual chairs and tables when they enter the classroom. To allow for social distancing, classroom and conference room seating capacity has been reduced by 50%.

Will class sizes be limited?

Limits will vary depending on the nature of the event, but most gatherings will be limited to 50 students in a large classroom or 10 students in a smaller space, while respecting social distancing and using face coverings.

My class requires experiential learning/field experience will these still take place?

Academic programs with accreditation requirements for experiential learning, field experience, and/or internships will work with the accrediting body to create safe and substantive alternatives.

Academic programs that have College requirements for internships, field experiences and/or experiential learning will be adjusted so students do not have to leave campus to fulfill them.

Course-based experiential learning requirements and extracurricular programs with experiential components will be adjusted so that students do not have to leave campus.

Are science labs (ex: physics, chemistry, biology) going to be offered online?

Labs will be held both in-person and online depending on the class. Please refer to your individual schedule.

What is the pass/fail option for spring 2021 classes?

Academics - Schedule

What is the academic schedule for the Spring 2021 semester?

Semester length classes for both undergraduate and graduate students will begin on Monday, February 1. The last day of classes for undergraduates is Monday, May 3, and is immediately followed by two reading days. The final exam period for undergraduates starts Thursday, May 6, and ends Wednesday, May 12. For graduate students, the final day of class is Wednesday, May 12. As was the case in the Fall semester, classes will be held on traditional holidays (including President’s Day, Patriot’s Day, Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Monday). In an effort to limit student travel, there will be no Spring Break.

Some programs operate on eight-week terms. For these programs, there are two eight-week terms in the spring. The first eight-week term session begins on Monday, January 18, and it will end on Friday, March 12. The second eight week-term session begins on Monday, March 15, and ends on Friday, May 7.

Will there be classes during typical spring holidays?

The College will not be observing holidays or Spring Break in order to limit the number of individuals leaving the campus and returning.

Academics - Services

Will academic advising take place?

All academic advising relationships will continue as usual. Most, if not all, of these conversations, will take place over Zoom or some other virtual platform. 

Will there be a tutoring and study partner program?

Tutors and study partners will be available in the spring. Many sessions will take place over Zoom. Math subject tutoring will be delivered over Blackboard Collaborate. There will be some on-ground tutoring with appropriate health and safety protocols in place.

Are Success Coaches available?

Success Coaches will continue to be available to students for one-on-one conversations. Most of these will take place over Zoom. Success coaches are available all semester. We have added an additional 20 graduate fellows to expand success coaching to check in with students.

Will the McQuade Library be open?

The services of McQuade Library will be fully operational in the spring. The library will be open as a place for students to study, though there will be a change in the layout of chairs and tables to allow for social distancing. Plexiglass dividers have been placed on tables for additional protection. Furniture should not be moved.

For the spring semester, the library will be open only to the Merrimack campus community.

Hours

Sunday 10 a.m. through Friday 10 p.m.
Saturday 10 a.m. to midnight

The Library is closed Friday from 10 p.m. - Saturday 10 a.m. and Saturday from 10 p.m. - Sunday 10 a.m.

I have questions about academic accommodations, who should I contact?

The Accessibility Services Office is available to help students with specific questions or concerns. Most one-on-one meetings take place over Zoom. 

Tuition and Fees

Is there additional funding? I am concerned about paying my tuition for next year.

Students who are concerned financially about this coming academic year may seek additional assistance during this trying time by submitting a request through the Student Emergency Fund form. Please visit the Student Emergency Fund Website for more information.

What is the COVID-19 mitigation/testing fee?

The cost is $475 per student per semester.

All undergraduate and graduate students taking in-person classes or participating in an on-campus fellowship or athletics will need to participate in the College’s COVID-19 testing program. All students who come to campus are required to have two COVID-19 tests per week. The College is not increasing the testing fee for the additional test – further subsidizing the costs associated with testing – each student will be required to pay a mitigation fee each semester. At the time of publication, the federal government is still considering some funding to colleges for testing. Should Merrimack receive funding for testing, it will share a portion of these funds with students by crediting student accounts. Having a separate and transparent mitigation fee will make any credits easier to identify should funding become available.

The COVID-19 fee is created to offset the cost of all aspects of testing for which the community as a whole benefits, including those who are temporarily not testing because they have tested positive. As a result all students, including those who have tested positive or vaccinated, are charged the COVID-19 testing fee.

At this time the Commonwealth is recommending that all vaccinated individuals continue to follow COVID-19 protocols regarding face coverings, social distancing, continue surveillance testing and follow existing quarantine rules should they be identified as a close contact of a positive case. As a result, at this time the College will not alter its current policies for those members of the community who have been vaccinated.

I’m a commuter student, do I need to pay the COVID-19 mitigation/testing fee?

Yes. All students taking in-person classes are required to participate in the College’s COVID-19 testing and mitigation program. 

What happens if the College needs to shut down? Will I be reimbursed for tuition or room and board expenses?

The College will not reduce tuition or fees costs or reimburse room and board fees for such a shutdown.

What is the College doing with the CARES Act funding received?

Merrimack College was awarded $2.6 million in federal funds through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The amount of funds is determined by a combination of those students eligible for Pell Grants and the remainder of the student population (the U.S. Department of Education allocated 75 percent of the funds available in the act based on the full-time equivalent enrollment of Pell Grant recipients and the remaining 25 percent based on the full-time equivalent enrollment of students who did not receive a Pell Grant). The funds are split into two equal parts. One part, $1.3 million, is dedicated to institutional use to offset additional operational costs associated with the pandemic. The College has elected to utilize these funds to offset expenses otherwise paid by students. While helpful, the CARES Act funds are significantly less than the costs associated with the institution’s response to the pandemic.

The second $1.3 million is funding for students to help defer costs directly related to COVID-19 expenses. The College has used these funds to establish a student emergency fund to assist students with COVID-19-related expenses. More information can be found on our website.

Congress recently passed, and the President has signed, the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2021. This act provides additional assistance to the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund to provide funds to both students and institutions. At publication of this Handbook, the allocation to Merrimack College and its students is being determined. In the meantime, Merrimack encourages those students who have costs directly related to the COVID-19 pandemic to continue to apply to the College’s Student Emergency Fund.

I tested positive for COVID-19 during the Fall semester, do I need to pay the COVID-19 mitigation fee for the Spring semester?

Yes, all undergraduate and graduate students taking in-person classes, participating in an on-campus fellowship or athletics will need to participate in the College’s COVID-19 testing program and pay the COVID-19 mitigation/testing fee. If you previously tested positive, you will resume participation in the campus COVID-19 surveillance testing program 90 days after testing positive.

The COVID-19 fee is created to offset the cost of all aspects of testing for which the community as a whole benefits, including those who are temporarily not testing because they have tested positive. As a result all students, including those who have tested positive or vaccinated, are charged the COVID-19 testing fee. At this time the Commonwealth is recommending that all vaccinated individuals continue to follow COVID-19 protocols regarding face coverings, social distancing, continue surveillance testing and follow existing quarantine rules should they be identified as a close contact of a positive case. As a result, at this time the College will not alter its current policies for those members of the community who have been vaccinated.

Housing

When will Residential move-in take place?

The move-in process will begin on January 27, 2021 and end on January 29, 2021. Students will be asked to sign up for their move-in time in advance through MyMack. New students are encouraged to select a move-in time on January 27 to participate in orientation later that afternoon. Communication regarding the move-in sign-up process will be sent in the beginning of January.

Are guests allowed in residence halls?

There will be no guests allowed in the residential areas. Further, students cannot visit residential halls other than the one they reside in. Parents/ immediate family may come to campus to see their students but they must sign up 24 hours in advance through the guest registration form and all guests must remain outside of the residence halls.

How will residence halls be structured to ensure safety?

To abide by social distancing and safety guidelines, Merrimack has eliminated triple and quad rooms, is installing movable barriers in all bedrooms and is working to reconfigure common spaces. Face coverings will be required in the residence halls in any spaces outside of personal rooms, and visitors (including students who live in different residence halls) will not be allowed. Residential students are only permitted in their assigned buildings. Residence life professional and paraprofessional staff will continue to live on campus and promote a healthy and safe community environment.

Will there be additional cleaning of residence halls?

On a more frequent basis, facilities staff will clean residential common spaces, including common bathrooms. If you are a student living in a suite or apartment, you will continue to be responsible for regularly cleaning your own bedroom, bathroom, living room and other non-common spaces. 

What is a residential group?

Students will be housed by their Living Learning Communities, we are planning athletic groups to be housed and grouped together, and all remaining students will be assigned by class year within the residence areas. The Office of Residence Life is reviewing housing placement preferences from the spring housing process for returning students and the housing questionnaire for first-year and transfer students. Students will be grouped together by those living in a specific townhouse, apartment or suite. Traditional residential hall rooms with common bathrooms will be cohorted in groups of 4–12 people based on their living preferences. The residential groups will provide students the opportunity for closer personal and social contact with others while living on campus this fall — including the ability to have a roommate and share meals with others. When interacting only with members of their residential group in residence hall areas, social distancing should be maintained where possible but may be relaxed where needed as long as face coverings are worn.

What is the purpose of residential groups?

Residential groups are small groups of students who will serve as each other’s “family unit.” If you are living on campus this fall, your residential group will provide the opportunity for closer personal and social contact with others — including the ability to have a roommate and share meals with others.

As a resident student can I have my car on campus?

Overnight parking will be very limited for the Spring 2021 semester, commuters will be served first with parking (since there will be more commuters); students are encouraged not to bring their cars to campus unless they have a documented medical need, an internship requirement, necessary employment or family circumstance. 

Can I be eligible for Spring 2021 housing if I opt to be remote for the fall?

Students can return to spring housing if they do not live on campus in the fall.

Dining

What dining services will be available on campus?

Within indoor existing dining locations, seat counts have been reduced, queuing areas modified and takeout food encouraged to allow for social distancing and proper social density. Food stations at Sparky’s have been renovated to reduce self-service and provide more efficient serving. The Warriors Den provides mobile ordering through Bite U, as well as kiosk and in-person ordering options. In addition, the Sanctuary Coffeehouse, Dunkin’ Donuts and Mindful MAC will provide mobile ordering and pickup. Sparky’s now boasts 10 newly configured stations to serve our students fresh, vibrant and creative dishes. There is always something new for students to try as well as favorite comfort foods that students have come to rely on. When swiping into Sparky’s, students have access to all stations (each station can be visited as many times a student likes) in Sparky’s. Please be sure to visit Merrimack’s Dining page for more information regarding our locations on campus.

Do all students need to purchase a meal plan?

To reduce the need to travel off campus and to maintain a safe and varied campus dining experience for students, the College has created universal meal plans for all residential students. While the price is the same, the meal plan offers more options for students between swipe meals and Mack Bucks. Additionally, Mack Bucks can be used to order groceries through GrocersPod. Meal plan options can be found on MyMack. In an effort to maximize students eating on campus and minimize students leaving campus, Merrimack has increased the number of food venues and dining options.

The College offers three meal plan options for residents and one for commuters:

  • 19 meals/$50 Mack Bucks
  • 13 meals/$450 Mack Bucks
  • 7 meals/$1,000 Mack Bucks (for students in units with kitchens only)
  • 5 meal plan (commuters only)

Are meal plans available for commuter students?

Yes, there is a five meal plan available for commuter students. Commuter students are also able to purchase additional meals if they want.

Is there a grocery delivery service?

To reduce the need to leave campus for groceries, Merrimack has partnered with a locally owned company, GrocersPod, to create a Merrimack-specific experience where students can order groceries (and other essentials) from a nearby supermarket and have them delivered to the campus. Students will be able to pay for groceries using Mack Bucks and dining dollars. The cost of delivery is free and deliveries will be made to a central location on campus several times during the day.

Can I adjust my meal plan for the Spring semester?

Yes, visit the Merrimack dining website for more information about meal plans and how to make adjustments.

Athletics, Recreation and Fitness

What is the current status of the 2020-2021 athletic season?

Merrimack, in partnership with the other members of both the Northeast Conference (NEC) and Hockey East, is continuing to conduct winter basketball and ice hockey seasons. All activity will continue to be consistent with or exceed the policies and guidelines established by Merrimack College, the NEC, Hockey East, the NCAA and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, including COVID-19 testing up to three (3) times per week for student-athletes while in their competitive seasons. Travel will continue to be limited to exclude overnight trips whenever possible and air travel will not be permitted.

As announced at the time of the postponement of fall sports (men’s and women’s cross country, field hockey, football, men’s and women’s soccer and women’s volleyball), the NEC Council of Presidents has committed to exploring opportunities to reschedule the competition season to this spring, in alignment with the rescheduled NCAA championships. Any student-athlete intending to compete in the Spring semester will need to be registered and enrolled as either a residential or a commuter student. Remote students will not be permitted to participate in athletic activity.

It is anticipated that spring sport schedules, as well as the schedules for fall sports competing this spring, will be modified to include a reduction in non-conference competition and a focus on regional opponents in an effort to limit extended travel. Overnight trips will be limited to the extent possible and air travel will not be permitted.

Student-athletes will return to campus at the end of January as part of the College’s move-in plan. There will not be an early move-in period for student-athletes. Athletic activity will resume after move-in is completed and all required COVID-19 testing has been conducted.

It is unlikely that spectators will be permitted at athletic events on campus for the remainder of the academic year.

All home games will be livestreamed on merrimackathletics.com and on NECFrontRow.com.

Will there be intramural or club sports?

Club sport competition will remain suspended for the start of the Spring semester and will be reassessed as the semester advances. Clubs will be permitted to participate in noncontact, group activity with prior approval from the Department of Athletics. Off-campus club sport activity may be permitted pending review of facilities used, transportation and participation plans.

Intramural activity will continue during the Spring semester on a limited basis, with a continued effort to offer activities that will best promote appropriate distancing and support the health and safety of all participants. The athletic fields and outdoor track will be available for recreational use at times when they are not scheduled for varsity use. Recreational skating hours will also be offered with capacity limits. Additionally, two new outdoor basketball courts have been added just in front of Hamel Health Center.

Will the fitness center be open?

The fitness center will be open, though entry and capacity may be limited by appointment. Social distancing policies will be enforced. Visit the athletics website to reserve your fitness center time.

Parking

Is parking available for residential students?

adequate parking for commuter students, the College has limited the number of overnight spaces available for residential students. As was the case in the fall, there will be no off-campus parking accommodations, and the number of overnight spaces will continue to be extremely limited. Students who need to have a car for health-related reasons can petition for a parking space. All others will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis with no guarantee of approval. Students who need to have a car for the following reasons

Student Life and Events

Will there be student activities and events?

Gatherings in indoor and outdoor spaces will be limited in size in accordance with public health guidelines, both on and off campus. Hosting and attending large parties or registered events is prohibited for the 2020–2021 academic year, as such events are incompatible with the social distancing required to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

The division of Student Affairs will be hosting multiple programs and events over the course of the semester to ensure opportunities for social interaction among the communities. These staffed events will follow all College event guidelines. 

Student organizations should refer to the information regarding student organization related events and gatherings and work with the Office of Student Involvement to host events within the instructed guidelines.

Will there be Mass?

Daily Mass will be held Monday through Friday at 12:30 p.m. in the sanctuary area of Austin Chapel for those already on campus and those who have been cleared to be on campus. Live Mass will continue to be broadcast over Zoom for those unable to attend in person. On Sunday, three Masses will be held for students at 12:30 p.m., 5 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. – and will also be broadcasted over Zoom.

Is the on-campus Post Office open?

The Post Office will be open Monday - Friday, 8:30 a.m.- 4 p.m. Due to the increased number of packages, the Post Office will have a package only pickup location located on the same floor as the Post Office. By early in the semester the College will have installed an automated unattended self-service locker system where students can pick up packages 24-7.

Will the Rogers Center host events?

There will be no public events at the Roger’s Center for the Spring 2021 semester. The College is considering a plan for student events.

Will there be Commencement for the Class of 2020 and 2021?

Commencement exercises are scheduled to take place over the weekend of May 21-23, 2021. Merrimack College will be celebrating both the class of 2020 and 2021. As public events are limited as a result of COVID-19 guidance, both the class of 2020 and 2021 should continue to monitor their emails for further details that will be shared in the coming months. 

Will the campus shuttle be running?

There will be no on-campus shuttle for the Spring semester.

Can I have a job or internship off campus?

Yes, you can have a job or internship off campus. However, it is strongly recommended that you look for on-campus job and internship opportunities. Visit the Handshake website for opportunities.

Travel and Study Abroad

What are the current policies for student and employee travel?

If you travel by airplane, travel overnight or travel to regional COVID-19 hot spots, you will be required to quarantine for 14 days before coming back to campus, regardless of the reason for traveling. The College will not support or pay for any travel for any student or employee unless pre-approved. This includes team athletic travel, students and mission trips, admissions and athlete recruiting.

I’m traveling from out of state, do I need to self-quarantine?

Traveling to Massachusetts from Out of State

Massachusetts Travel Order

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts travel order went into effect on August 1, 2020, and requires that all visitors traveling to Massachusetts from any state that is not recognized as lower-risk must complete the Massachusetts Travel Form and pursuant to State Order, must produce either a negative COVID-19 test administered up to 72-hours prior to arriving in Massachusetts or quarantine for at least 10 days upon arrival in Massachusetts. A traveler who is required to quarantine may be released from the obligation to continue quarantining upon obtaining proof of a negative test from a molecular test approved by the FDA for emergency use, administered after the person’s arrival in Massachusetts.

Current List of Lower-Risk States Exempt From Travel Order

Individuals who are COVID-19-recovered, meaning individuals who tested positive more than 10 days but less than 90 days ago and who do not have symptoms, do not need to obtain a negative PCR test prior to traveling to or quarantine upon arrival to Massachusetts. COVID-19 recovered individuals arriving in Massachusetts must have documentation of the positive PCR test result available if asked. This exception does not include COVID-19-recovered individuals who have symptoms of COVID-19, who must follow all testing and quarantine guidance outlined in the travel rules.

Faculty, staff or students who are commuting into Massachusetts to attend school or work meet an exemption from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Travel Order and do not need a negative COVID-19 test result or to quarantine.

Residential Students From Outside Massachusetts

For students who are traveling from outside of Massachusetts (excluding Hawaii) a negative COVID-19 test result administered up to 72 hours in advance of arriving on campus and a completed Massachusetts Travel Form are required prior to moving into any residence hall. Please email a copy of the negative test to deanofstudents@merrimack.edu. Any student within 200 miles of campus who receives a positive test result after arriving on campus will be required to immediately enact their departure plan. Please contact the Dean of Students at deanofstudents@merrimack.edu with any questions.

If family members are accompanying their student on campus they must also complete the Massachusetts Travel Form or produce a negative COVID-19 test administered up to 72-hours prior to arriving in Massachusetts if they stayed overnight in Massachusetts, otherwise they meet the State exemption for transitory travel. Parents, guardians and family who stay overnight in Massachusetts and plan to accompany their student to campus who could not obtain a test administered up to 72-hours before arriving may obtain a test at the individuals own expense after arrival in Massachusetts but must quarantine until a negative test result is received. Please contact the Dean of Students at deanofstudents@merrimack.edu with any questions.

Visitors Coming from Outside Massachusetts

Visitors who are visiting residential students from restricted states, and who are staying overnight in Massachusetts, must produce a negative COVID-19 test administered up to 72 hours prior to arriving on campus. If a visitor from outside the region enters Massachusetts only to visit the student briefly and then immediately leaves the campus and the state, they meet the exemption for transitory travel and the travel order regarding testing or quarantining would not apply.

Visitors must be registered and students must fill out the Guest Registration Form 24 hours in advance of the visit. Please note that the student must fill out the form using their Merrimack email address. Completion of this form will assure access onto the campus to drop off/pick up students or any items. Visitors are not permitted in any of the campus buildings but may visit their students outdoors. If this form is not completed, visitors will only be allowed to pick up their students at Lot A near the Elm Street entrance.

As a reminder, students who travel to Massachusetts from restricted states and have a place off campus to quarantine for 14 days are permitted to do so before coming to campus. Students will still be tested for their baseline upon their arrival onto the campus. In that case, students will move in as part of the scheduled move-in January 27-29 and must complete a Massachusetts travel form upon arrival, which can be found online at www.mass.gov/matraveler. If your travel is delayed due to a positive COVID-19 test, please contact Hamel Health, which will work with you and the Office of Residential Life to find a new date for your move-in.

Commuter and Graduate Students from Restricted States

For those commuters and graduate students who are renting locally and will be traveling from a distance to your new residence please be aware of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts travel order that went into effect on August 1, 2020. This order requires that all visitors traveling to Massachusetts (except visitors coming from states that are exempt from the Massachusetts travel order) must self-quarantine for 14 days or produce a negative COVID-19 test result that has been administered up to 72-hours prior to your arrival in Massachusetts.

Additionally, as mandated by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, when arriving from outside of the state (except for states that are exempt from the Massachusetts travel order), students and family members must complete a Massachusetts travel form upon arrival which can be found online at www.mass.gov/matraveler.

If your arrival to campus is delayed due to a positive COVID-19 test, please contact Hamel Health who will work with you and your faculty to determine when you will be on campus to begin classes.

Students From Within Massachusetts

Although it is not required for students traveling to campus from inside Massachusetts, the College strongly encourages all to take a COVID-19 test administered up to 72 hours prior to arriving to campus, the College strongly encourages that all students begin to quarantine 10 days before arriving to campus and take a COVID-19 test administered up to 72 hours prior to arriving to campus.

Students will still be tested for their baseline upon their arrival. As in the Fall semester, if a student arrives on campus and takes a baseline test that produces a positive result, they will be asked to enact their departure plan and sent home if they live within 200 miles of the campus. Therefore, it is very important for students to do everything they can to ensure a negative COVID-19 test upon arrival to avoid having to leave the campus for the duration of quarantine.

Can I go home during the semester?

Once the semester begins, Merrimack College strongly advises you to refrain from extended personal travel until after the fall semester has concluded. Extended personal travel is defined as leaving the area of the campus community overnight or engaging in any activity off campus that would increase the risk of COVID-19 exposure.

You should refrain from travel over weekends, on holidays, or otherwise from the time you arrive at the start of the fall semester until the time you depart at the end of the semester. Merrimack will be providing expanded services during weekends.

What are the plans for study abroad?

Study Abroad programs, both semester-long and short-term, are canceled for the 2020-2021 academic year. There will be no College-sanctioned study abroad program for Spring 2021. You are encouraged to consult with the Office of Global Education regarding future possibilities.

Faculty and Staff

Are there resources available to help me to teach my class in-person and remotely?

The College has created a new multi-modality teaching website with a variety of resources to help you teach in-person and online. Please reach out to your department chair or Dean’s office with any questions or concerns. In addition, The Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning (cetl@merrimack.edu) is having regular development sessions all summer in preparation for the fall semester.

Will I know which students in my class are taking on remote classes?

The College will provide a list of specific students who will be taking your sections as a remote-only class, and we will share with Deans, instructors and advisors. Many students are reaching out to their faculty advisers. If you receive inquiries and you are not sure how to respond, please consult your Dean’s office or the Academic Success Center with questions.

Are there recommended ways for me to prepare for a hybrid classroom?

There are a variety of ways to prepare for hybrid courses. Some suggestions include:

  • Faculty member scheduled to teach a large class: The material will be made available online. Additionally, the class will be divided into small groups for face to face meetings in the classroom for periods of time that fit within the class’s current schedule.  This would allow the students to have smaller-group engagement with the faculty member without altering the schedule or requiring a larger room for the course.
  • Faculty member scheduled to teach multiple sections of the same course: The faculty member will hold one or two of those sections as on-campus courses, and the second or third section as a fully remote course. The faculty member will meet with half of their students one day per week, and half the other. The students who are not in the classroom on any given day will be assigned asynchronous work. The syllabi would be similar enough that students would be free to transfer between the sections as needed. If any students should face scheduling problems in transferring between on-campus and remote sections, the faculty member will work with them to accommodate those students’ needs. 
  • Faculty member meets with the students back to back in shifts one day a week:  (for a 8-9:50 class, half the class would come at 8 a.m., the other half at 9 a.m). This class session would be “lecture” and Q&A. There would also be asynchronous materials for that day (videos of lectures, discussion forums, etc.). On the other day of the week the faculty member will hold a synchronous online meeting, involving group work on the Zoom whiteboard or a similar engaging activity.   
  • Faculty member splits on-campus classroom: Students are divided into two groups that meet face-to-face once a week and complete an online assignment on the other days. In addition, students meet virtually once a week with students who are not on campus (either by choice for the entire semester or because of illness). In this model, faculty could be on campus or join the class remotely. For MWF classes, the instructor would meet with group A (half the students who are on campus) on Monday, group B (other half of on campus) on Wed and group C (students who choose virtual instruction or have to due to illness) on Friday. For Tuesday/Thursdays classes, the plan for groups A & B are the same but this faculty member would set aside time for the students who require 100% virtual instruction. This can be done in the evening to not conflict with other classes. If faculty are teaching remotely and students join via zoom, the virtual learners could join one of these sessions and reduce the need for an additional session. 
  • Faculty member teaching on the ground with remote students: Students Zoom into the class through the College issued Ipad that the faculty member sets up on the ipad stand that will be in each room. (This requires a single Zoom invitation to all remote students.) Students who are remote are placed in small groups with other students in the class for remote Zoom collaboration.

If I don’t like the way my classroom is set up can I move the furniture?

Furniture in all the classrooms has been set for the semester. The rooms are set up in a specific way in order to guarantee student and faculty safety. Furniture MUST NOT be moved.

Do I have to wear a face covering to teach?

Plexiglass barriers have been installed to be used by faculty to stand behind and teach. If teaching behind the plexiglass barrier, faculty still need to wear a face covering.

Questions and Concerns

I have questions and concerns. Who do I reach out to?

This spring, patience, understanding and teamwork will make a big difference. We depend on each other to ensure a safe and vibrant community. If you have concerns about the implementation of the College’s COVID-19 policies or practices, please contact the Task Force

Contact List