COVID-19

Oct 2 Campus Update

Oct. 2: Campus Update

Dear Merrimack College Community,

We are writing with the College’s plans to return to face-to-face instruction beginning on Wednesday, October 7. 

Returning to face-to-face learning is an important step, and we appreciate everyone’s response to this week’s temporary move to remote learning. Many residential students decided to stay on campus during remote learning, while others have gone home for a few days and will be able to start returning to campus on Monday October 5. Additionally, we are happy to welcome back our Monican residents who have been isolated or quarantined as a result of the Monican cluster, and will return next week based on their individual return plans. With so many students returning at the beginning of the week we have selected Wednesday, October 7, as the best date to return to face-to-face instruction. This date will align with and allow extensive testing on Monday of residential and commuter students who have returned from home, and to allow Monican students to test and quarantine for 24 hours as they await their returning test result. 

The goal in creating our aggressive testing protocol was to quickly identify positive cases and reduce the risk of transmission to our community by isolating those who test positive, and quarantining those who have come in close contact with them. Although many schools are testing to different degrees, our strategy has been to test everyone each week or more including commuters, off campus students and vendors. It has worked very well, and we believe this strategy was smart and the right thing to do even though at times it is unnerving to see the number of positive cases occasionally increase. Remember, COVID-19 exists everywhere, for every positive case we find, we reduce the risk of transmission to others in our community because we identify it and swiftly take action.  

New positive cases are in significant decline both in overall numbers, and amongst residential students. These recent results support our conviction that our overall approach to the last 10 days was the correct course of action. These results are encouraging, and the College is confident in its decision to move back to face-to-face instruction beginning Wednesday, October 7. 

Due to the focus on caution and our desire to continue face-to-face instruction safely, the College will be implementing the following in order to conduct a safe return to classes:

Residential students who left campus during the week: 
We understand the decision many students made last week to leave the campus based on the events that took place. Residential students who left campus during the week:

  1. Residential students can return to campus on Monday, October 5, or Tuesday, October 6. This is due to the fact that the testing center is only open on weekdays. 

  2. Upon arriving on Monday or Tuesday, residential students must immediately go to the testing center for a re-entry test. 

  3. Students should quarantine in their rooms until a negative test result is received. This will mean quarantining for approximately 24 hours. This process will follow the same approach as move-in.

  4. Once a negative test is received, students will be free to move around the campus and perform campus jobs.

  5. Once back on campus, we urge you not to leave the campus unless necessary.

 Resident students who remained on the campus:

  1. All resident students who remained on campus this week should test during their regularly scheduled testing times.

  2. Residential students who remained on the campus are free to move around the campus and perform campus jobs.

Commuter students:

  1. Commuter students are still free to come to campus and should follow their regular testing schedule. 

  2. Commuters can take their classes remotely from campus on Monday and Tuesday.

  3. Commuter students who have jobs on campus will be able to continue.

Graduate students:

  1. Graduate students who are residents on the campus should follow the same residential guidance as above.

  2. Graduate students who are commuters should also follow the commuter guidance above.

  3. Graduate students who work on campus as graduate fellows should continue to work on campus and follow their testing schedule.  

Students in isolation/quarantine:

  1. Students who are currently isolating/quarantining or are home as a result of our testing protocol (this includes all residents of Monican Hall) should maintain their current status and continue their course as directed by the College and/or the Board of Health.  

Faculty and staff: 

  1. Faculty and staff should continue to test during their regularly scheduled testing time. 

  2. If any faculty or staff member missed their test last week, please test upon arriving on campus. The testing center is open during normal hours (7 a.m. - 6 p.m. weekdays) and will accommodate walk-ins.

We know this past week was not an easy one for our community and we apologize for any inconvenience this has caused our students, faculty and staff. However, this was something that the College needed to do in order to continue to keep our entire community safe and confident. This past week has taught us more about COVID-19 and it is no one’s fault as the nature of the virus is to spread quickly and efficiently. 

Unfortunately, this virus is not going away anytime soon. Our successful testing strategy has allowed our students to earn their education, have a residential experience, and allowed our employees to continue to work and provide for their families. Our investment in surveillance testing is how we quickly discovered COVID-19 within our community, and our commitment to each other and our patience with the protocols put in place will result in a successful return to face-to-face classes resuming on Wednesday, October 7.

We thank all members of our community for their continued vigilance, and we look forward to returning to face-to-face instruction.

Best,

Christopher E. Hopey, Ph.D.
President

Jeffrey Doggett, Ed.D.
Executive Vice President
Chief Financial and Operating Officer

Sean Condon, Ph.D.
Interim Provost