What You Need To Know

Things will look a little different this fall as we work together to minimize the spread of COVID-19. What will remain 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. To enter Merrimack College, you must do the following:

What entrance is open to enter campus?

Rock Ridge Road is currently the only entrance open on campus. All entrances are now gated and staffed by campus security 24 hours a day and entry is limited to enrolled students, employees, parents of students, vendors, Islander hockey participants and visitors to the admissions center. Learn More

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

Yes. Until further notice, anyone (age two and up) on the Merrimack College campus or in public areas of College housing, whether indoor or outdoor, who is unable to maintain a distance of approximately six feet from every other person is required to cover their mouth and nose by wearing a face covering. If you are an employee working alone in your office and or a residential student alone, or with their roommate in your college-owned housing, you do not need to wear a face covering.

Are visitors allowed on campus?

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.

Health, Safety and Testing

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

Signs and symptoms of COVID-19 include:

  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • New gastrointestinal symptoms

If you have any of these symptoms while away from the College, do not return to campus. If you develop symptoms while on campus, speak with your manager and leave your workplace immediately. In either case, call your medical provider and notify Merrimack of your status. Students must call 978-837-5599. Employees must contact humanresources.covid@merrimack.edu.

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. 

Will Merrimack be testing students, faculty and staff for COVID-19?

Based on current understanding of the virus and statewide planning, all students, faculty and staff will be tested for COVID-19 at the beginning of the fall semester (baseline test) and on an ongoing basis throughout the semester as part of a coordinated asymptomatic surveillance testing approach. Those who do not agree to submit to testing will not be allowed on campus. All students will be required to execute an acknowledgment of risk and a consent form prior to returning to campus and before submitting to testing. Daily, comprehensive on-campus testing will be conducted for approximately 600-900 students and employees. Students and employees should expect to be tested every 3-10 days depending on risk factors, commuter or residential status, and athletic participation.

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 978-837-5599 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.

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. 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 978-837-5599 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 are my learning and housing options for the Fall?

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

  1. Dual modality of on campus in-class and online formats. In this model for the Fall 2020 semester, you may take advantage of commuting or living on campus, participate in on campus activities and have access to all other on campus services. This option provides access to the widest array of courses and services
  2. Take Virtual Classes/Learn from Home. By choosing to participate in courses taught remotely, you will not be allowed on campus, but you will have access to services which are available online. You may additionally have limited course choices, as some courses can not be offered online. There is no tuition reduction for choosing this option. If you choose to take virtual classes, you will be contacted separately with more details on services created for you.
  3. COVID-19 Leave of Absence from Merrimack for one semester, or a full year without penalty. If you select this option, you will not be enrolled in courses at the College. As a result, you 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. After your leave of absence, you have up to one year to return to the College without the need to reapply. Certain programs such as nursing and teacher education that require state licensure may be exempt. Students should follow up with their program directors. Athletes considering this option should consult their coach regarding the impact on eligibility.

If you are interested in taking a leave of absence, you must complete the COVID-19 Leave of Absence Form. If you are an undergraduate student, you will not be charged for a leave of absence. However, if you take courses at another college during this time, you will be charged $100 per semester credit to transfer credits to Merrimack. Please note that not all credits transfer from one college to another.

To make the best decision for yourself and your health, we encourage you to speak with your physician, family members and friends about your options.

How do I inform the College about my decision for the Fall 2020 semester?

You must notify Merrimack of your fall plans by completing the Intent to Enroll form no later than Friday, July 17, 2020, by 5 p.m. This form has been emailed directly to all students.

Please email the Task Force or call (978) 837-5599 if you have not received this email or have any questions.

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.

Has the academic schedule changed for the Fall 2020 semester?

Yes. Classes will begin Monday, August 24, 2020 and the College will remain residential through Wednesday, November 25, 2020, before going remote for the remainder of the fall semester, with classes ending and Residence Halls closing at 9 p.m. on Wednesday, November 25, 2020. Final exams will end Friday, December 4, 2020. During this semester, holidays will be canceled.

Graduate classes’ start dates for the Fall 2020 semester will vary by program. Students will receive program start information directly from their program directors.

Athletes in season, international students and students from a significant distance may stay on campus through the holidays and will be required to pay the full rate for room and board. Fall 2020 room and board fees will be adjusted from the Spring fees.

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

Most of our classes will be multi-modality – incorporating both in-classroom and remote learning, with some courses offered completely online or on campus. Course formats will vary by student and program of study.

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 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.


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.

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.

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. Due to COVID-19, supplemental cleaning of bathrooms in suites and apartment bathrooms will be regularly conducted by facilities staff.


What dining services will be available on campus?

Our dining strategy aims to provide more space, more options and less crowding. Three new outdoor temporary venues for dining are being added this fall. These areas will be tented, heated and lighted, and provide a variety of food options. There will be additional options for grab-and-go meals, and opportunities to pre-order and pick up through a new mobile app. Catering of events and food provided at events will be very limited. You will not be able to make your own food in the cafeteria; instead, everything will be made for you, in front of you and according to your preferences.


Will there be Fall athletic competitions?

Athletic competitions will take place this fall and teams will primarily compete within the Northeast Conference (NEC). There will be very limited overnight travel, frequent testing of all Merrimack athletes and visiting athletes, and limits on when a season starts, hours of practices, number of spectators, both indoors and outdoors. There will be no exceptions.

Will fans be allowed at athletic events?

Attendance will be very limited at sporting events and strict social distancing will be enforced. Athlete parents and residential students will be allowed to attend, but the College reserves the right to limit access depending on the game, practice or events. Games and events will be streamed on the Internet.

Will there be intramural or club sports?

Club sport competition is canceled for the fall semester. Specific clubs that participate in noncontact sports may be permitted to continue practice activity with prior approval from the Department of Athletics. No off-campus club sport activity will be permitted.

Intramural activity will occur during the academic year on a limited basis, with an effort to create activities that will best promote appropriate distancing and support the health and safety of all participants.

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.

Student Life

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 the Rogers Center host events?

The Rogers Center is closed to all outside visitors and all public events are canceled. If you are a student or faculty member, you can use the facility for classes and student events. Parents and residential students will be allowed into the Rogers Center for events, but the College reserves the right to limit access. Events will be streamed online. 

Travel and Study Abroad

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 Fall 2020. You are encouraged to consult with the Office of Global Education regarding future possibilities.

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.

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.

Can I have a job or internship off campus?

Due to COVID-19 risks, off-campus job and internship opportunities are discouraged if you live on campus. In an effort to mitigate the impact on students, the College is expanding its on-campus employment opportunities to help students with the greatest financial need. Efforts to provide additional professional growth opportunities on campus are also being planned. To learn more, please contact studentemployment@merrimack.edu

Questions and Concerns

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

This fall, 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 policies or practices, please contact the Task Force. Employees and students who do not adhere to campus COVID-19 policies are subject to removal from campus and additional disciplinary actions.

Merrimack Student Support Services

Please reach out to our teams with any questions or concerns.