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Reopening: Higher Education

Institutions are working together and in partnership with the state to ensure a safe and gradual return to campus life.

Table of Contents

Introduction

Massachusetts' diverse higher education institutions continue to foster teaching, learning, student support, and essential research remotely throughout this time. Institutions are working together and in partnership with the state to ensure a safe and gradual return to campus life.

Four key principles will guide the return to campus life for Massachusetts' higher education institutions:

  1. Protect the health and safety of students, faculty, staff and people in surrounding communities
  2. Enable students to make meaningful progress towards their educational goals
  3. Contribute to research and innovation
  4. Minimize adverse economic impact on families, employees and the Massachusetts economy

Please note that Massachusetts may continue to modify higher education guidance during the reopening process.  Please visit this site regularly for updates.

Guidance for Phase 3 and 4

Complete the Higher Education COVID-19 Control Plan for all allowable activities.

Across all phases of reopening, Massachusetts higher education institutions should adhere to the state’s mandatory workplace safety standards.

As of March 22, 2021, the Higher Education COVID-19 Control Plan includes revisions related to Phase 4, Step 1, including an update related to the Travel Order being rescinded and replaced with a Travel Advisory, and the issuance of guidelines related to Commencement ceremonies.

On December 24, 2020, Secretaries Peyser and Sudders sent Return to Campus Guidance for January 2021 to leaders of institutions of higher education and boarding schools.

As of December 11, 2020, the Higher Education COVID-19 Control Plan includes revisions related to COVID-19 quarantine protocols, reflecting DPH Information and Guidance for Persons in Quarantine due to COVID-19. These changes are effective immediately.

As of November 18, 2020, the Higher Education COVID-19 Control Plan includes revisions related to COVID-19 testing protocols, and to detection and response protocols for periods when school is not in session. All institutions of higher education with students residing on campus should complete this new version of the Control Plan and post it on the institution’s website as soon as possible, and implementation should begin immediately.

As of September 2020, a revised version of the Higher Education COVID-19 Control Plan provides clarification related to dining services and facilities.

Additional Resources

Prior Guidance for Phase 1 and 2

Phase 2 Guidance

Higher education institutions began to allow students, staff and faculty to return to campus for the limited purposes of permitting students to complete a degree, program, or prerequisite for employment, or other similar requirement for completion, for summer youth programming including athletic facilities, and any necessary supporting services, following Phase 1 guidance for all activities that were allowable in Phase 1, and completing the Higher Education COVID-19 Control Plan for allowable Phase 2 activities.

Phase 1 Guidance

Higher education institutions began repopulating laboratory and/or clinical settings that may already be accustomed to following strict protocols for infection control. In addition, small numbers of students, staff and faculty returned to campus in this phase as-needed to help prepare for repopulation across future phases. This included small numbers of administrative staff who could not perform their work remotely, subject to all office space guidelines, as well as the return of students to remove belongings from residence halls. All institutions were to follow the planning guidance below, depending on the activities they planned to resume.

Other resources

Throughout the re-opening process, higher education institutions may wish to refer to the following resources to inform their planning and provide user-friendly information to students, staff and faculty regarding public health protocols:

Helpful infographics:

Short videos:

 

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