COVID-19 Winter Break Update - December 31, 2021

Dear Faculty and Staff,

We hope this message finds you well and enjoying a relaxing winter break. The COVID-19 Recovery Task Force has continued to meet during the past week and is monitoring the latest public health guidance and data – including the major rise in COVID cases in the Boston area, Massachusetts generally, and around the nation.

The Task Force is developing contingency plans for a variety of COVID-19 scenarios that might arise. We are also considering a number of COVID related safety updates relative to testing frequency, grab-and-go dining, masking, and virtual learning during the first weeks of the spring semester. In addition, we are evaluating the CDC’s new guidelines regarding isolation time for those testing positive for COVID and determining how those changes might impact Simmons’ protocols. All members of the community – faculty, staff, students, and their families – can expect a comprehensive update with decisions on these issues early next week.

The health and safety of students, faculty, and staff continues to be our top priority during this pandemic. As part of our decision-making process, the Task Force, in consultation with our public health experts, weighs a variety of factors – including campus-based positive cases, transmission rates in the broader community, isolation and quarantining capacity on-campus, campus employee and staffing levels negatively impacted by positive cases, city, state and CDC guidelines, and local hospital capacity, among other indicators. We are in the process of finalizing a helpful community facing COVID Alert Level matrix that will allow students, faculty, and staff to better understand the level of risk on our campus and these metrics that impact our decisions.

Reminder: Testing Requirement Before Returning to Campus

The first week of January will be a remote work-from-home week for all non-essential faculty and staff. All employees must complete a COVID-19 test (PCR or home test) up to 72 hours before their return to campus. Employees may test on their own and upload results via CoVerified. During this time, employees also have the option of coming to campus to receive a COVID-19 test during testing site hours and then return home to await the results. In addition, all employees must test on the first day of their return to campus for work.

Thank you for your continued efforts to help keep our community safe during this evolving pandemic.

The COVID-19 Recovery Task Force