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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


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.

Mandatory safety standards for all phases

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

Guidance for Phase 3

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

As of September 2020, a revised version of the Higher Ed Control Plan provides clarification related to dining services and facilities. Institutions may wish to complete this version of the Control Plan as needed.

Additional Resources

Guidance for Phase 2

Higher education institutions may begin 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.

Phase 2 Guidance

  • Follow Phase 1 guidance for all activities that were allowable in Phase 1.
  • Complete the Higher Education COVID-19 Control Plan for allowable Phase 2 activities.
  • Continue preparing plans for phase 3.

Guidance for Phase 1

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 may return to campus in this phase as-needed to help prepare for repopulation across future phases. This may include small numbers of administrative staff who cannot 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 should follow the planning guidance below, depending on the activities they plan to resume.

Phase 1 Guidance

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: