COVID-19

Health and Safety

Health and Safety

Merrimack College’s first priority remains, as always, the safety and well-being of our students, faculty and staff throughout the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. 

General Safety Policies For All Campus Members

While Merrimack College remains committed to providing an outstanding learning and working environment, COVID-19 has forced us to reimagine how to deliver a high-quality education with more frequent remote engagement. It challenged us to look at residential life, classrooms and dining in new and creative ways. It has created a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to break old habits and create new and relevant ways to teach and learn — and caused us to rethink how we deliver services such as counseling, student life and career development services.

Entering Campus

Fall 2020 Experience
In the fall, we successfully gated and guarded all campus entrances to safeguard the campus. Campus access was limited to students, faculty, staff, students family members, vendors/contractors, Islander hockey participants and visitors to the Admissions Welcome Center. Everyone that entered campus was required to sign an acknowledgment of risk form, or complete their symptom check on the CoVerified app. The information in these documents and the app address critical health and safety information regarding COVID-19 best practices, including but not limited to social distancing, wearing face coverings, and personal hygiene and cleanliness.

Spring 2021 Policies
For the spring, all campus gates and entryways will continue to be limited to students, faculty, staff, students, vendors/contractors, Islander hockey participants, guests and visitors to the Admissions Welcome Center.

Anyone entering the campus must follow the below guidelines:

  • Check in with the Merrimack College staff at the Elm Street entrance, the Route 125 entrance or at the crosswalk on Route 114.
  • Faculty, staff and students must show their “cleared” status on their CoVerified app and Mack ID.
  • Approved visitors and vendors/contractors must show an ID, review the policies and procedures, complete the daily symptom checklist and screening questionnaire, and sign the acknowledgment of risk each time they enter campus.

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 the campus:
    • Have you traveled outside of the country or to any state designated by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts as a “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?

For the spring, the College will be utilizing both paper and CoVerified to validate signing of the waiver of liability and assumption of risk, as well as the answers to the daily symptom check. As part of the COVID-19 testing protocol students, faculty and staff must download the CoVerified application (see page 20) to complete the daily symptom screening and validate compliance with Merrimack College’s surveillance testing protocol. A “cleared” status on the CoVerified application is required to gain access onto campus.

Visitors and vendors/contractors must be approved to access campus and will validate compliance by completing the paper copy of the daily symptom screening and a waiver of liability and assumption of risk.

Campus Visitors

Generally, visitors and guests will be prohibited from campus, just as they were in the fall, with exceptions, including visiting parents and family, admission visitors, essential vendors and contractors, and Islander hockey participants. Upon arriving on campus, all visitors must review the COVID-19 Return to Campus Policies and Procedures, the COVID-19 Return to Campus Checklist and a waiver of liability and assumption of risk each time they arrive on the campus. Visitor experiences on campus will be limited depending on the visit. There will be no exceptions unless approved by the Office of the Executive Vice President.

Residential students who would like to register their parents or family members to come onto campus 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. Parents and family members are not permitted in any of the campus buildings but may visit their students outside. If this form is not completed, parents/family members will only be allowed to pick up their students at Lot A near the Elm Street entrance.

Shared Rides, Deliveries and Packages

While we discourage shared rides at this time, shared rides and food deliveries will be directed to the Elm Street entrance where there is a designated pickup/drop-off location in Lot A.

All mail and package deliveries will be directed to the loading dock behind the Sakowich Campus Center and collected by the Post Office. Students may pick their packages up at the Post Office on the 2nd floor of the Sakowich Campus Center.

Return to Campus Guidelines and Protocols

As we prepare for the Spring semester, Merrimack College’s first priority will remain, as always, the safety and well-being of our students, faculty and staff throughout the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Until a vaccine or treatment is made available to the public, Merrimack College will continue to use evidence-informed methods and policies to protect the health and safety of its students, faculty and staff while on campus.

What makes Merrimack College as a community unique is that we all look out for one another. In the coming months, you will need to be cognizant that your actions impact others – especially if you do not feel well. It is essential that we protect each other and mitigate the spread of the disease. The following sections outline policies, health measures and changes to the campus’ social experience in order to assist in this effort and mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

Health and Safety

  • As in the fall, all students, faculty and staff who return to Merrimack’s campus this spring will be screened through the CoVerified app and tested for COVID-19 on an ongoing basis.
  • Students, faculty and staff will be responsible for monitoring their own health daily, as well as for self-reporting, self-quarantining and self-isolating should they test positive for COVID-19.
  • All students, faculty and staff will be required to wear face coverings, social distance, ensure proper hygiene and otherwise conform to the policies of the College with regard to mitigating the spread of COVID-19.

Ongoing Monitoring

The College’s COVID-19 Task Force will continue to monitor the ongoing developments related to COVID-19 prevention, communications, outreach and response planning, and will advise College leaders on policies and decisions aimed at ensuring the safety of Merrimack students, faculty and staff.

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 other states 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. There are a number of states that are exempt from state policy and all other states are considered “restricted.”
Current List of Lower-Risk States Exempt From Travel Order

Residential Students From Outside the Region

Students have the following options to return to campus:

  1. It is encouraged that all students outside the region take and produce a negative COVID-19 test administered up to 72-hours prior to arriving on campus. Students with a negative result will be permitted to move into their spring housing assignment upon doing so. Students will still need to be baseline tested upon their arrival. If family members are accompanying the student on campus they must also produce a negative COVID-19 test administered up to 72-hours prior to arriving on campus 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 your own expense after arrival in Massachusetts but must quarantine until a negative test result is received. 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. We ask that you share a copy of this form with us upon arrival.
  2. For students who are traveling from outside of Massachusetts and from states that are exempt from the Massachusetts travel order: If testing is not available in your area prior to your departure from home to campus, students may return to campus on January 26 and the College will assist you in testing. Please contact the Dean of Students at deanofstudents@merrimack.edu to make arrangements. Please note that upon arrival, students will be quarantined until they receive their negative test result.
    • Please note, if a parent/guardian/family member is entering Massachusetts only to drop off the student 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. However, if they are staying overnight in Massachusetts they are subject to the requirements of the Massachusetts Travel Order. Please be aware the list of exempted states may be altered by the state at any time. For the most recent list of states, visit www.mass.gov/matraveler.
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 the Region

Although it is not required for students traveling to campus from inside the region to take a COVID-19 test before coming to campus, the College strongly encourages that all students begin to quarantine 14 days before arriving to campus or to 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.

COVID-19 Symptoms 

Symptom Monitoring

Each day, before reporting to campus or leaving your residence hall, all members of the community should complete a daily self-screening on the CoVerified app to confirm that you do not exhibit any symptoms potentially related to COVID-19.

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 your symptoms.

Employees must contact Human Resources or call (978) 837-5157 to inform the College of your symptoms.

If you live on campus and have any symptoms, please do not leave your room and call (978) 837-5441.

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.

Experiencing Symptoms While On Campus

Any students who become symptomatic while on campus must immediately isolate and notify Hamel Health at (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. In the meantime, residential students should stay in their room, notify Hamel Health who will potentially move the student to an isolation room and/or direct the student to enact their departure plan.

Social Distancing

In addition to wearing a face covering while on campus, everyone must follow social distancing best practices. The goal of social distancing is to reduce transmission of COVID-19 and not to completely eliminate all interactions. While on campus, everyone must attempt a minimum of six feet from individuals to reduce the spread of COVID-19 when possible.

Campus Health and Safety Measures

By this point, most people own and use various Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). While we recommend you bring your own face coverings and other PPE, please be aware that the College has invested in cleaning and hygiene installations around campus, including:

  • 677+ hand sanitizer dispensers (wall-mounted and stands)
  • 313 sanitizing wipe dispensers
  • 23 electrostatic sanitizing sprayers
  • 25 touchless thermometers

Additionally, Merrimack has created other protection measures across campus including physical barriers and touchless entry solutions. Investments made include:

  • 1,700+ plexiglass barriers in offices and classrooms (rolling barriers for faculty)
  • 400 touchless plumbing sensors
  • 250 occupancy light sensors
  • 250 kickdown door stops
  • 200 step-and-pull for doors
  • 1,300 movable room dividers

The College has acquired multiple supply chains for acquisition of additional supplies.

Hygiene and Face Coverings

Handwashing

Students, faculty and staff should wash their hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after they have been in a public place, or after blowing their nose, coughing, sneezing or touching their face. If soap and water are not readily available, they should use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol. When using hand sanitizer, students, faculty and staff should cover their hands and rub them together until they feel dry. Hand sanitizer dispensers will be placed around campus in strategic locations, but students are advised to bring a personal supply when returning to Merrimack College for the 2020–2021 academic year.

Enhanced Cleaning and Disinfecting

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.

Compliance and Enforcement of COVID-19 Policies

The members of the College community depend upon each other to ensure a safe and vibrant community. Contact the Task Force with any concerns about the implementation of the College’s policies and/or practices. 

Merrimack will not tolerate non-compliance with our policies and practices as it relates to keeping the campus safe. The Community Standards will reflect changes to our Code of Conduct that will hold students accountable for things like refusing to wear a face covering, or not taking COVID-19 tests. Faculty are asked to contact MCPD if students refuse to properly wear face coverings in class.

Face Coverings

Effective this past summer and until further notice, anyone (age two and up) on the Merrimack College campus or in public areas of College housing, whether indoors or outdoors, 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. Employees working alone in their offices and residential students who are alone or with their roommate in their college-owned housing do not need to wear face coverings.

Merrimack College reserves the right to decline entry to any individual who refuses to wear a face covering for nonmedical reasons.

Face coverings are not a substitute for social distancing or hand hygiene. However, cloth face coverings can help prevent presymptomatic and asymptomatic individuals from inadvertently spreading the virus to others.

Face coverings should:

  • Cover the nose and mouth
  • Fit snugly but comfortably against the face
  • Be secured with ties or ear loops
  • Include multiple layers of fabric
  • Allow for breathing without restriction
  • Be laundered and machine dried frequently

When handling face coverings:

  • Wash your hands with soap and water or apply hand sanitizer before and after removing a
    cloth face covering
  • Assume the outside of the cloth face covering is dirty; mark it in some way so that you do not inadvertently wear it outside-in
  • Store your cloth face covering in a clean paper bag
  • Only handle your cloth face covering by the ties or ear straps
  • Do not pull your cloth face covering below your chin while wearing it — dangling or ill-fitted cloth face coverings could lead to cross-contamination
  • Do not touch your eyes, nose
    or mouth

Campus Testing, Quarantine and Isolation

Students, faculty and staff on campus are expected to do their part to keep the campus community safe. By coming to campus, you are agreeing to the following expectations:

  • Maintain at least six feet of distance between people.
  • Avoid gatherings of more than 25 individuals (including office gatherings, in-person meetings and permissible visitors — not including classes or approved sponsored events).
  • Self-monitor for COVID-19 symptoms daily and certify that you have not experienced any COVID-19 symptoms in the past 48 hours or been in contact with anyone diagnosed or experiencing symptoms in the past 14 days.
  • Wear a face covering in all public spaces and spaces used by multiple people.
  • Execute an acknowledgment of risk and consent form.
  • Submit to regular COVID-19 testing.
  • Avoid traveling off campus, including personal weekend travel. Residential students should avoid leaving campus to reduce infection and transmission of COVID-19.
  • Stay home (or leave the workplace/classroom) and notify the appropriate individuals (supervisor/Human Resources, Hamel Health) if symptoms develop.
  • For employees, have meetings virtually and avoid shared spaces, even when on campus; stagger shifts; and encourage remote work as much as possible.
  • Wash your hands frequently and know the signs of COVID-19.

Campus-Wide Regular Surveillance COVID-19 Testing

Based on the current understanding of the virus and statewide planning, all students, faculty and staff will be tested beginning January 25 through May 7 twice a week throughout the semester as part of a coordinated asymptomatic surveillance testing approach. All members of the Merrimack community on campus during the winter break and the weeks leading up to the start of school will be tested weekly. Those who do not agree to submit to testing will not be allowed on campus.

The College has joined 40 area colleges by subscribing to the Broad Institute’s ‘Safe for School’
Program. This allows the College to conduct testing on campus while the processing of each sample is performed at the Clinical Research Sequencing Platform (CRSP), the clinical testing laboratory at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard. This laboratory operates under a set of government regulations known as CLIA that allow us to run high complexity, molecular tests, such as the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test used to detect COVID-19. The test that is run by CRSP is a modified version of a test developed by the CDC. Over 40,000 tests have been performed on our campus to date.

Each week on Tuesday evenings, the College updates its COVID-19 dashboard providing weekly test results.

Broad Testing Service testing

Merrimack will not tolerate noncompliance with our policies and practices as it relates to keeping the campus safe. The Community Standards will reflect changes to our Code of Conduct that will hold students accountable for things like refusing to wear a face covering, or not taking COVID-19 tests. Faculty are asked to contact MCPD if students refuse to properly wear face coverings in class.

Symptom Decision Tree

All students, faculty and staff should use the following decision tree as part of their self-monitoring before leaving their rooms and/or homes to come to campus. View Symptom Decision Tree PDF.

Symptom Tree Chart for COVID-19

Surveillance Testing: Twice a Week 

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-CoV2 novel coronavirus, which is the pathogen responsible for COVID-19. Nasal mucous will be collected from an anterior nasal swab placed into each nostril (not a deep nasopharyngeal swab).

A positive test result tells if there is currently the SARS CoV-2 virus in your system, which is the virus that causes COVID-19. A negative result tells if 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 will be scheduled for a baseline test, the week of January 25. Baseline testing appointments will be communicated to all faculty, staff and students before the start of move-in the week of January 25.

Weekly ongoing: Beginning the week classes resume, all on-campus students, faculty and staff will be able to use the CoVerified app to self-schedule their recurring twice a week COVID-19 test.

  • All residential students will be scheduled for a baseline test by the College which will occur on the day of their move-in, 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 weekly testing that will begin the week of February 1 and will continue until the week of May 5.
  • Commuter students will complete their baseline testing the weekend of January 30 and 31 and will then follow their self-selected twice a week COVID-19 surveillance test that will begin the week of February 1 and continue until the week of May 5.
  • 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 twice a week COVID-19 surveillance tests that will begin the week of February 1 and continue until the week of May 5.
  • Faculty and staff will complete their baseline testing the week of January 25 on a self-selected day and time. Those that cannot complete their baseline test during that week will complete their baseline test the first week of classes. Weekly COVID-19 surveillance test that will begin the week following the baseline test and continue until the week of May 5.

Broad Institute/On-Site

Merrimack College is participating in the college surveillance 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 past fall. Merrimack College has also partnered with the clinical support company, On Site Medical Services, who provides clinical personnel and processing support to the on-campus testing center.

CoVerified App

Merrimack College is using the CoVerified Application to support the College mitigation and surveillance testing plan. This web-based and smart phone application is specific to the Merrimack College community and allows users to: gain campus entrance clearance through daily screening, report symptoms, receive test results and access other COVID-19 education and mitigation strategies. For information or to download the app visit the College’s app suite.

COVID-19 Test Result Dashboard

Every week on Tuesday evenings, the College will provide weekly COVID-19 and unique cumulative testing results. The dashboard can be found on our COVID-19 dashboard webpage. This summary is designed to provide an overview of COVID-19 cases and tests performed among the campus community - students, faculty, staff and affiliates who are studying, living, or working on the campus.

A Positive COVID-19 Test: What to Do

Students Who Test Positive 

  • Notification of a positive test result from the Broad ‘Safe for School’ test administered by Merrimack will be made to College COVID-19 testing healthcare providers and the institution through the CoVerified app. Students who test positive will be directly contacted by the College healthcare personnel and will be subject to isolation protocols.
  • If a student takes additional (not replacement) COVID-19 tests outside of the College’s ‘Safe for School’ testing, and tests positive for COVID-19, the student should immediately call (978) 837-5441 (Hamel Health) to report the positive test.
  • Students who also appear to have symptoms while on campus outside of weekly testing should immediately call (978) 837-5441 (Hamel Health) for medical triage and/or evaluation will be tested immediately. Symptomatic students should not go to the testing center without calling Hamel Health first. Symptomatic students are subject to isolation protocols.
  • In all cases where a student tests positive or has 2 or more COVID-19 symptoms, they are to self-isolate for at least 10 days. Student isolation protocols include:
    • If students live within 200 miles they will be isolated temporarily and will enact their departure plan and will leave campus for the duration of their quarantine.
    • If they live farther than 200 miles, or if they have at-risk relatives at home, or if they have other special circumstances they will be isolated in one of the isolation beds the College has set aside.
    • In conjunction with the appropriate government health agency, Merrimack College will undertake contact tracing following the student’s notification. Contact tracing will include a conversation with the student to determine potential exposures on campus.
    • Sick students should follow CDC recommended steps — sick students should stay in isolation for at least 10 days and cannot return until they have no fever without the use of medication for at least 24 hours and other COVID-19 related systems have improved. Students should work in consultation with healthcare providers, the College and state and local health departments.
  • Once the College has been notified of a positive test, Merrimack will undertake contact tracing in conjunction with the appropriate government health agency. Contact tracing will include a conversation with the student to determine potential exposures on campus. Those exposed to infected student will be required to also self quarantine for 14 days per the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
  • Any COVID-19-related obstacles will be on a case-by-case basis. Communicating issues and concerns and doing so honestly in an effort to look out for each other will be paramount. The entire COVID-19 situation requires shared responsibility, looking out for others and not penalizing anyone who gets sick. The College is committed to protecting our students and community. We will work tirelessly with each individual to figure out the most appropriate strategy to assist them and the community, but this also requires everyone to do their part and work with the institution.

Remote Learning While Sick with COVID-19

Students who are physically out of class due to COVID-19 will have the ability to continue their
learning remotely when they are well enough to resume class engagement. Students should
communicate with all their professors as soon as they know they will be missing one or more classes.

Students who are taking courses that cannot be continued remotely will be provided with alternate options to ensure that all credit hours can be completed and that they meet the course learning outcomes.

Employees (Part-Time and Full-Time) Who Test Positive 

  • Notification of a positive test result from the Broad ‘Safe for School’ test administered by Merrimack will be made to employees and the institution through the CoVerified app.
  • If an employee who takes additional (not replacement) COVID-19 tests outside of the College’s ‘Safe for School’ testing and tests positive for COVID-19, the employee should immediately alert the Office of Human Resources or call 978-837-5157.
  • In all cases where a person tests positive, they are to self-isolate at home for at least 10 days. No employee who tests positive will be allowed to return to campus before they have isolated for a minimum of 10 days, and that during those 10 days they had no fever for at least 24 hours without the use of medication. The College will work with employees on when is the best time to return.
  • Once the College has been notified of a positive test, Merrimack will undertake contact tracing in conjunction with the appropriate government health agency. Contact tracing will include a conversation with the employee to determine potential exposures on campus. Those exposed to infected employees will be required to also self-quarantine for 14 days per the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
  • Any employee who exhibits symptoms while at work should leave work after contacting their supervisor and immediately contact their personal physician and call 978-837-5157.
  • Employees who are well but who have a sick family member at home with COVID-19, or are otherwise exposed to a person infected with COVID-19 should notify their supervisor and the Office of Human Resources, and follow CDC recommended precautions to stay at home in quarantine for 14 days from when the family member recovers.
  • Any COVID-19-related obstacles will be considered on a case by case basis. Communicating issues and concerns and doing so honestly in an effort to look out for each other will be paramount. The entire COVID-19 situation requires shared responsibility, looking out for others, and not penalizing anyone who gets sick. The College is committed to protecting our faculty and staff. We will work tirelessly with each individual to figure out the most appropriate strategy to assist them and the community, but this also requires everyone to do their part and work with the institution. Those who believe they have circumstances limiting their ability to return to work should contact the Office of Human Resources to discuss.

Remote Work While Sick with COVID-19

In most cases, faculty and staff who are quarantined or isolated from work due to COVID-19 will have the ability to continue their work remotely if their symptoms are manageable. Faculty and staff should discuss their work schedules with the Office of Human Resources if they are sick with the virus and follow the Merrimack College Leave for Exposure to Communicable Diseases policy. If remote work is not possible for an individual, other types of leave may be available. Please contact Human Resources to discuss options.

Contact Tracing

The ordering clinician of a patient who has tested positive for COVID-19 is required to report that positive test to the state department responsible for public health (Massachusetts Department of Public Health and New Hampshire Bureau of Infectious Disease Control). The local board of health or health department in the community where an infected patient lives will also be contacted. The relevant state or local agency will coordinate contact tracing related to that patient.

For every positive COVID-19 test on Merrimack’s campus, contact tracing is used to identify and
contact members of the campus community (students, faculty, staff) who meet the CDC and
Massachusetts Department of Public Health guidelines for being at risk for exposure— and told to self-quarantine and get tested. If you are considered a close contact per the definitions of the CDC and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health the College’s contact tracing team will contact you. If you are not contacted, then per contact tracing protocols you are not considered a close contact. According to the CDC, a close contact is defined as being within 6 feet for at least a period of 10 minutes to 30 minutes or more depending upon the exposure. In healthcare settings, this may be defined as exposures of greater than a few minutes or more.

The College, in partnership with the town of North Andover, is using a trained contact tracing team to work in concert with the state and local community to ensure faster identification of contacts at risk.

Those deemed by the contact tracing team to be at risk of exposure will be informed they have been in contact with a confirmed case and provided with the appropriate self-quarantine protocols. In situations where the employee is not sick but is in self-quarantine, they should work remotely.

If you are not contacted because you are not identified as a close contact from someone who tests positive for COVID-19, but you believe you are a close contact it is your responsibility to get tested.

Campus Expectations for Notification of COVID-19 Positive Community Members

For every positive COVID-19 test, contact tracing is used to identify and contact members of the
campus community (students, faculty, staff) who meet the CDC and Massachusetts Department of Public Health guidelines for being at risk of exposure; these individuals will be told to self-quarantine and get tested. The names of individuals who test positive for COVID-19 are confidential. There will be no announcements about individuals who test positive. Each week on Tuesday evenings, the College updates its COVID-19 dashboard providing weekly test results.

Residential Student Quarantine and Isolation (per CDC)

Quarantine is for students who have been identified as a contact of someone who is COVID-19
positive but are not exhibiting any symptoms and have not tested positive. Individuals who are in quarantine should stay in one place for 14 days. Students who are required to be in quarantine must enact their departure plan and leave the campus. If a student lives outside of the 200-mile radius of the College, they will be assigned campus housing during their quarantine period.

Isolation is for students who have either tested positive for COVID-19 or who are exhibiting
symptoms of COVID-19 (including fever, chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, or new loss of taste or smell) and have been told by a provider that they have, or probably have, COVID-19, even in the absence of a test. Students who are required to be in isolation due to a positive COVID-19 test must enact their departure plan and leave the campus for their isolation period. If a student lives outside of the 200-mile radius of the College, they will be assigned campus housing during their isolation period.

Departure Plans

All residential students are required to have a departure plan on file. These plans must be followed in the event of a student needing to isolate, quarantine or if they are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19. Departure plans will be strictly enforced and minimal changes will be allowed once a student’s departure plan is submitted. Students will be asked to implement these plans as soon as possible after talking with our medical staff.

Any questions involving departure plans should email the Dean of Students Office at
deanofstudents@merrimack.edu. Students who live more than 200 miles away from campus or who have an at-risk family member at home are encouraged to make alternate arrangements with family/friends close by or to travel home; however, should that not be possible they can opt to quarantine or isolate with the College in a designated temporary housing space. Please contact the Dean of Students Office at deanofstudents@merrimack.edu with any questions.

Students and their families are encouraged to have candid conversations about the student’s
departure plans and plan for steps that may need to be taken should students need to enact that departure plan.

Commuter Student Quarantine and Isolation at Home

In all cases where a person tests positive, they are to self-isolate at home for at least 10 days. No commuter student who tests positive will be allowed to return to campus before they have been isolated for a minimum of 10 days and that during those 10 days they had no fever for at least 24 hours without the use of medication. The College will work with commuter students on when is the best time to return.

At no time will commuter students be permitted to come into on-campus housing in the event
that they have to isolate or quarantine. Commuter students are encouraged to develop their own
individual plans of care should this situation arise.

Please note that commuter students who are well but who have a sick family member at home with COVID-19, or are otherwise exposed to a person infected with COVID-19 should call (978) 837-5441, and follow MA DPH guidelines to stay at home in quarantine for 14 days from when the family member recovers.

Employee Quarantine and Isolation at Home

In all cases where an employee tests positive they are to self-isolate at home for at least 10 days. No one who tests positive will be allowed to return to campus before they have isolated for a minimum of 10 days, and that during those 10 days they had no fever for at least 24 hours without the use of medication. The College will work with employees on when is the best time to return. Please note that employees who are well but who have a sick family member at home with COVID-19, or are otherwise exposed to a person infected with COVID-19 should notify their supervisor and Human Resources, and follow MA DPH guidelines to stay at home in quarantine for 14 days from when the family member recovers.

For Individuals with COVID-19 Under Isolation

Persons with COVID-19 who have symptoms and were directed to care for themselves at home may discontinue isolation and return to campus under the following conditions:

  • At least 10 days have passed since symptoms first appeared.
  • All respiratory symptoms are improving (cough, shortness of breath).
  • At least 24 hours have passed with resolution of fever without the use of fever-reducing medications.

Individuals with laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 who have not had any symptoms and were directed to care for themselves at home may discontinue isolation and return to campus under the following conditions:

  • At least 10 days have passed since the date of their first positive COVID-19 diagnostic test, assuming they have not subsequently developed symptoms since their positive test.

Note that because symptoms cannot be used to gauge where these individuals are in the course of their illness, it is possible that the duration of viral shedding could be longer or shorter than 10 days after their first positive test. The protocols on this page follow recommendations made by the CDC.

Flu Vaccine

Per the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, all College students living and/or taking classes on campus are now required to receive the flu vaccine. The new vaccine requirement is an important step to reduce flu-related illness and the overall impact of respiratory illness during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Students will be expected to have received a flu vaccine by December 31, 2020 for the 2020-2021 influenza season, unless either a medical or religious exemption is provided. If you are currently a remote student and planning to return to campus in the spring you will need to get vaccinated through your own medical provider before returning to campus. For more information and to document your flu vaccination visit www.merrimack.edu/flu.

Mental Health

During these uncertain times, attending to mental health is more important than ever. Merrimack is committed to supporting students’ health and well-being. Students will be offered mental health and health services on campus and through teletherapy and telemedical appointments. The Counseling Center is open Monday-Friday 8:30 a.m.- 5 p.m. and appointments can be scheduled by calling (978) 837-5444.

Additionally, Merrimack College has launched BeWell@MC, a program offering students 24/7 access to a mental health clinician, online resources and information regarding mental health and wellness. To access the 24/7 line, students may call (978) 837-5444. To access online resources visit The Counseling Center website.

Merrimack is also offering private spaces on campus for students who feel they do not otherwise have a confidential and private space to access. These rooms can be used for both appointments at The Counseling Center and also to continue teletherapy with their at-home therapists. To reserve one of these rooms, call The Counseling Center at (978) 837-5444. Employees who need mental health support can access Merrimack’s Employee Assistance Program through the Human Resources page on MyMack or by contacting Human Resources.

Campus Shutdown Policies and Plan

Campus Outbreak of COVID-19

Merrimack College is prepared for COVID-19 outbreaks in our local community and for individual exposure to occur in campus buildings.

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 or long period 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. Although not required by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, the College also has plans for a partial shutdown of the campus if such a shutdown is warranted. The College will strive to provide as much notice as is possible if a partial shutdown is warranted. Further, the College reserves the right to shutdown or quarantine parts of campus or specific buildings in response to an outbreak.

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 to ensure any prevalence of COVID-19 on campus, 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.

If Merrimack must shutdown campus, it will move to remote work and learning, for a temporary
period of time and then resume face-to-face classes when appropriate in this situation.

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

Pandemic Safety Policy for Student Behavior

Merrimack will not tolerate non-compliance with our policies and practices as it relates to keeping the campus safe. The Community Standards will reflect changes to our Code of Conduct that will hold students accountable for things like refusing to wear a face covering, or not taking COVID-19 tests.