Spring Semester COVID-19 Updates for Students - January 5, 2022

Dear Students,

We hope this message finds you well during these final weeks of winter break. The COVID-19 Recovery Task Force has continued to meet and monitor the latest public health guidance and data – including the significant rise in COVID cases in the Boston area, Massachusetts, and around the nation.

The health and safety of students, faculty, and staff continues to be our top priority during this pandemic. We write today with several important COVID-19 updates for the spring semester related to return to campus and remote learning, masks, and testing.

Remote Learning the Week of January 17

After careful consideration and input from our public health experts, Simmons has decided that all classes will be taught remotely during the first week of the spring semester from Tuesday, January 18 through Sunday, January 23. We plan to resume in-person classes on Monday, January 24, though we will continue to closely monitor the latest University-level and broader public health COVID data.

Virtual learning during this week will help achieve several important goals, including the establishment of a baseline for our on-campus COVID caseload, while allowing students, faculty, and staff to establish a regular testing cadence for the spring semester. This remote week will also reduce potential interruptions to teaching and learning during the start of the semester for those who may test positive and need to return home and/or to isolate.

During this week, students should come to campus to test at least once at the testing site or submit a test taken elsewhere to comply with the University’s weekly testing requirement. Once a first negative PCR Test is recorded, students will have access to the academic campus to study. Booking study space will continue to be done via 25Live, and physical distancing should be observed at all times. This benefit is intended for small group or individual study only. Classrooms should not be reserved to attend virtual classes.

Residential Student Move-In

The Simmons Residence Halls open at 9am on Saturday, January 15, 2022. Residential students should move in as previously scheduled between January 15 and January 17 during check-in hours. As a reminder, complete the following steps prior to move-in:

  • Submit your day and intended time of arrival to campus
  • Upload proof of the required booster once obtained (picture of vaccination card) at myhealth.simmons.edu
  • Complete a COVID-19 test (PCR or home test) within 72 hours of your arrival to campus and upload results via CoVerified by following these instructionsIf you receive a positive result, you must contact the Health Center to make them aware of your status and complete your isolation period at home. Do not come to campus during your isolation period
  • Complete required day of arrival test at the University testing site. Please note, the testing site will remain in the Linda K. Paresky Center (LKP), not the Special Functions room, as previously communicated, to accommodate all who need testing in a safe and spacious environment. The LKP is located on the third floor of the Main College Building, closest to Palace Road.

Residents who have completed the above requirements will be granted access to the residence halls by checking in through the Simmons Hall access point.

Check-In Hours: 9am - 5pm Saturday, January 15 – Monday, January 17. Residents must present a receipt from the Simmons COVID-19 testing site confirming they have completed their required day of arrival test when checking into the residence halls.

Updated Dining and Guest Policy

For the beginning of the spring semester, we are reverting to previous limited guest policies. Only Simmons residential students are permitted to be inside of University residence halls until further notice. No guests, including Simmons commuter students, are allowed inside the residence halls during this time.

Dining in Bartol Hall will be grab and go. The Fens and Common Grounds will be closed until Monday, January 24.

Updated Testing Policy

Given the rise of the Omicron variant, Simmons is updating its testing policy. All students, faculty, and staff who are on campus one day a week will continue to test once a week. If students, faculty, or staff are on campus more than one day a week, they will now need to test twice a week – regardless of vaccination or booster status, until further notice. We will evaluate this policy as the semester continues.

Linda K. Paresky Center Testing Hours

● January 15 -17: Saturday 9am – 5pm; Sunday 9am – 5pm; Monday 9am – 5pm

● January 18 (Regular Testing Site Hours Resume): Monday – Thursday 9am – 6pm; Friday 9am – 5pm

Reporting a Positive COVID Test Result

If you tested positive for COVID-19 during the winter break, please make sure to upload the results in CoVerified and notify the Simmons Health Center. This is very important, as it impacts testing protocols and our campus COVID data. Per CDC guidelines, any individual who tests positive for COVID-19 is exempt from further testing for 90 days.

Mask Guidance

Based on the latest CDC guidance about the relative ineffectiveness of cloth masks, students, faculty, and staff should wear a KN95 or N95 mask whenever possible. There are many counterfeit KN95 masks for sale online, so please visit ProjectN95 or the CDC to find safe and effective masks. Alternatively, you may wear a medical/surgical paper mask with a close fitting cloth mask over it.

Isolating After a Positive COVID Test

Simmons continues to follow public health guidance from local, state, and federal agencies. As a result, we are implementing the Massachusetts Department of Public Health’s updated isolation recommendations following a positive COVID test. 

Students now need to isolate for five days in the Simmons residential isolation space or if they are within 200 miles from campus, at home. On the sixth day, students who show no symptoms can begin to attend classes in person with a proper, tight-fitting mask.  

Students who isolate at home for the first five days will be allowed to return to in-person instruction on the sixth day if practical. However, they must commute from home until the completion of the tenth day. If students are unable to physically come to campus for classes, they should work with their faculty members individually, per the campus absence policy, to stay on track academically during the remaining isolation days.  

Students placed in isolation on the Residence Campus can return to face-to-face instruction on the sixth day if they show no symptoms, but they must remain in the campus-based isolation living space for the full ten days (because of CDC guidance that a mask must be worn at all times when around other people). Individuals who are still symptomatic after five days are to remain in isolation for the full 10 days, per Mass. DPH guidance. These guidelines are subject to change as additional information becomes available by the CDC and Mass. DPH. 

Reminder: COVID-19 Booster Requirement

Simmons is requiring a COVID-19 vaccine booster shot for all campus-based undergraduate and graduate students who are enrolled on our campus during the spring semester. Individuals must get their COVID-19 booster by January 18, 2022, or 14 days after they become eligible for the booster. Individuals become eligible for a booster five months after their second Pfizer dose, six months after their second Moderna dose, and two months after the single Johnson & Johnson vaccine dose. If you are having trouble accessing a booster, you can schedule an appointment at the state’s newly revived mass vaccination site at Fenway Park.

In addition, Simmons is planning an onsite booster clinic on February 3, 2022. This clinic is hosted by Osco Pharmacy​ and open to students, faculty, and staff​. ​Osco can provide all three vaccines: Moderna, Pfizer, and Johnson & Johnson,​ and can incorporate first, second, and booster doses.​ Attendees should bring their physical vaccine record cards. If unable to provide that, then they should provide documentation of previous vaccines so Osco Pharmacy can issue a new card.​ A link will be provided by Osco Pharmacy for attendees to schedule appointments. 

If you have questions related to residential student move-in, please contact the Office of Residence Life at [email protected]. Submit COVID-related questions to [email protected].

Thank you for your continued commitment to following the COVID-19 policies and protocols, which are designed to keep our community safe, while allowing us to continue to offer a vibrant on-campus living and learning experience. As we prepare for the start of the spring semester, we want to reiterate the importance of adhering to the best practices that minimize the risk of transmission to yourself and others.

Thank you,

The COVID-19 Recovery Taskforce