Nov. 21 St. Anne Apartments Closure and COVID-19 Happenings on Campus
Dear Merrimack College Community -
Yesterday President Hopey gave an update on Merrimack’s continued efforts to minimize the impacts of COVID-19 on the campus and continue to keep our campus community safe. As we have seen across the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and in our own community, positive cases continue to rise. The impact of processing delays in receiving test results from the Broad Institute slowed our ability to swiftly identify and isolate positive cases and quarantine those who may have come in contact with those positive cases. These delays, in the last days of our semester, have led the College to make a series of decisions including asking those students who remain on campus to get tested on Friday, changing our guest policies in the residence halls and recommending to faculty they teach their classes remotely next week at their discretion. We expect most classes will be remote when appropriate.
With the growing regional and campus numbers coupled with the delay in our ability to quickly enact our protocols, we continue to remain vigilant in our approach to managing potential isolated outbreaks on campus. We have now received the test results from Wednesday and Thursday and we see an increase especially in one residence hall - St. Anne Apartments - which is a smaller residence on the campus with about 60 residential students remaining. We believe the increase in St. Anne’s is a direct result of an indoor unsanctioned student gathering last weekend. Although many St. Anne students have already departed for the semester, we have made the decision to quarantine those who are remaining and have them enact their departure plans. Effective at 10 a.m. this morning, St. Anne Apartments is closed and will remain closed for the remaining five days of the residential fall semester.
Those students who live in St. Anne apartments met the Vice President and Dean of Students this morning, and they have begun to enact their departure plans immediately. Those St. Anne residents who are unable to travel home this weekend before the Thanksgiving holiday will quarantine in their residential units in St. Anne. Residential Life staff will assist students with their departure plans and answering questions of concern.
Parents of St. Anne students who are picking up their students today will be allowed onto the campus immediately to implement departure plans. St. Anne residential students who receive this message and are out on campus should return to their units immediately to enact their departure plans.
This action does not further impact any campus operations. The campus is open and food venues are running on schedule.
We expect to receive more test results from Thursday and Friday over the next 24-36 hours and will continue to follow our procedures and practices in isolating positive cases and quarantining those in contact with positive cases.
As was stated yesterday in the President’s message to the entire campus, the surge in demand for testing, coupled with the delayed test results from Broad over the last several days, has slowed the College’s ability to identify positive cases quickly and isolate and quarantine students to limit the spread of COVID-19. As many classes have begun to move to remote formats next week, and we are seeing an uptick in residential students changing their move-out plan to today, we ask again that students who can will consider leaving campus this weekend. Please remember, before departing, students should have received a COVID-19 test in the past 72-hours by recommendation of the College and the Governor.
As numbers continue to rise quickly within and outside our community, Merrimack College continues to be heavily focused on the safety of its students, faculty and staff. This continues to be achieved through our partnership with the Broad Institute, for whom without them, we would not have been successfully opened all semester. They have been a terrific partner and their work, as well as the work of OnSite, has exceeded our expectations. We are very appreciative of these two organizations and all they have done to keep us safe and open.
It is important that students who remain on campus until next week get tested on Monday, continue to wear face coverings, social distance, maintain good hygiene, and follow state and campus rules about gatherings, guest policies and being at your residence hall from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m.
As a reminder to our community, experts predicted the current second wave of positive cases spreading around the country and within the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Listening to the experts and including this in our planning months ago, the College planned the semester calendar in a way that anticipated the possibility of a second wave and made the decision not to send students home for Thanksgiving temporarily and bring them back to end the semester. The elimination of single-day holidays in the fall, the early start in mid-August, making finals remote, closing residence halls for the Fall 2020 semester on November 25, and ending the semester on December 4 instead of December 18, has and will serve our community well going into the winter extended break. Starting the spring 2021 semester on February 1, 2021 also allows the College community to gets some rest and have a successful spring semester as vaccines become widely available and slowly brings the pandemic to an end.
If you have any questions please contact the Dean of Students or call 978-837-5599.
Jeffrey Doggett Ed.D.
Executive Vice President
Chief Financial and Operating Officer