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By Jillian Riches

Spring Semester Student Opening Information

Spring Semester Student Opening Information

PJ Boggio, Vice President for Student Affairs, January 11, 2021

Dear Students;

            In preparation for our opening in a few short weeks Nichols College has prepared the following information to help answer your questions regarding the spring semester.  Coming off the extreme success of our fall semester – we feel renewed and optimistic that we can do so again; knowing that the entire community pulled together so well to make it work.  Opening in the spring is much less daunting knowing that our plan can and will be successful again.  We hope you are eager to get back, to see one another and again engage in the important work of continuing your purpose at Nichols College.

            Fall semester taught us many things.  How to better prepare, how to look out for our own safety while also watching out for others;  here are a few important lessons learned in the fall:

  1. The Bison Bubble works; but it really takes everyone to make it so.  Testing often was a major factor to our success in quickly isolating positive cases and severely limiting the amount of exposure to greater groups of people; thus, keeping our numbers down significantly. Wearing a mask, even when with your friends was also a factor in our success.
  2. Most of the fall cases among students could be traced back to students visiting non-Nichols friends back home who were asymptomatic and were not involved with regular testing as we were.  It’s asking a lot but as much as possible please consider holding off on visiting outside of the Bison Bubble.  Hanging out with friends on campus – without masks was also common in how these students then spread the virus to others on campus.
  3. The second grouping of cases among students was among teammates.  People that you might easily let your guard down with.  As a team commit to protecting one another and take the extra steps to keep your team safe!  Social distancing, masks and hand washing helps tremendously.
  4. In other news;  good hygiene and proper sanitation of the living spaces seems to be a common thread in the majority of our cases where one roommate was positive but the others in the living spaces never were.  Make a plan with your roommate(s) on what you will keep the same or do better at, for the spring.

Please take the time to carefully read and understand the following expectations as we commence the spring semester here on the Hill.

Testing prior to arrival:

  • As a reminder:  ALL students and staff/faculty should begin to make arrangements now to have a PCR Covid-19 test completed in the 72 hours prior to your arrival back on campus.   Results can be uploaded into your CoVerified app in order to present it prior to moving back in or beginning classes on Feb 1.  A PCR test is preferred; however if a rapid test is the only option for you it will be accepted.  Either way students should try and quarantine and contain their interactions between the time of their test and their arrival on campus.
  • Residential students living within driving distance to campus may return to campus between 9am and 5pm on Wednesday, January 27th to get their pre-test done at Nichols College.  Results should be received before move-in on Saturday.  Commuting students can return to campus between 9am and 5pm on Thursday and Friday, January 28th and 29th to get their pre-test done in time for classes to begin on Monday, February 1, 2021. 
  • The TESTING CENTER will now located in Daniels Auditorium – for the duration of the spring semester.
  • We highly encourage all members of the community to quarantine at home following your pre-test until you move-in to mitigate any potential for becoming infected in the meantime.
  • If you are unable to secure a test prior to your arrival to campus you must email pamela.boggio@nichols.edu before January 25th to secure a bed in the quarantine wing; you will test and then quarantine until your campus results come in.

Flu Shot prior to arrival:

  • If you have already received your flu shot and have not yet done so, please take a picture and load it onto your Co-Verified app.
  • Governor Baker has extended the deadline to February for compliance, however; we are asking that you complete the flu vaccine requirement prior to February 1st.  This will assist Nurse Kathy in knowing that all returning members of our community are in compliance as she needs to file reports with the State Department of Public Health.  Any exemptions for the flu vaccine should be sent directly to Health.Services@nichols.edu and addressed to Nurse Kathy Nicoletti.

What if you are/were positive right before or during winter break?

  • We know that individuals who were positive for the Corona Virus may still show up as a “positive” for up to 3 months after their infection; once the active stage of the illness has passed we also know that these individuals are no longer a contagious risk to our community.
  • If you tested positive – in an off campus test- after November 1st we ask you to please upload your positive results to the CoVerified app so we can be clear on timelines.
  • Please email CovidTesting@nichols.edu to notify our tracking staff that you have been positive in the last 90 days.
  • Anyone who has tested positive after November 1st, 2020 will not need to provide a pre-test prior to their return to campus.  HOWEVER, we will still ask you to test in our testing center immediately upon your arrival.
    • If your test comes back positive – provided you have told us of your previous infection ahead of time you will not need to quarantine/isolate again.
    • You will be expected to test at regular intervals (working with staff to determine) until your 90 days and/or a negative test result is produced.  Then you will rejoin the normal testing cadence
    • If your test comes back negative you will continue to test in your normal testing cadence.

What will the spring semester be like?

  • The measures taken last semester worked because you made them work.  We are hopeful, having the success of the fall in mind that the opening restrictions will be able to be lifted* even sooner this spring – depending again, on the students adherence to the expectations set forth.  *All restrictions are subject to change/increase/decrease on the order of the Governor – so we will always stay within the guidelines set by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
  • Phase One:  the most important stage – as we return during an elevated time for Covid cases and rebuild the Bison Bubble.
    • All Residential Students will be restricted from visiting other rooms and other residence halls for the first two weeks of the semester.  So long as students are meeting their testing schedule (2x weekly) – and cases are minimal we will move to Phase Two.
    • Given the current case numbers in the Dudley area and beyond – students are encouraged to remain on campus as much as possible during this time; when possible avoid even returning home through-out the semester.  Programs will be delivered virtually and as “grab and go” opportunities until further notice.  Intramurals will not begin during phase one.
  • Phase Two:  Students will be allowed to visit one another; but only within their own residence hall.  This phase – ideally – will only last 2 weeks as well, so long as students are adhering to the safety considerations and holding one another accountable to the expectations.  If cases spike on campus or students stop meeting their required testing schedule this phase may be delayed and or may last longer than the 2 weeks mentioned here.
  • Phase Three:  Students will be allowed to visit one another across halls.
  • No OUTSIDE Guests allowed during any time in the spring semester (this includes family members and commuters).
  • Commuters are not allowed in any of the residence halls at any time during the spring semester.
  • Intramurals will return as soon as we are able to safely program for them.
  • Activities on campus will start out in smaller group sizes – especially those programmed for indoors in adherence with the State’s current restrictions.   
  • All members of the Nichols Community are expected to wear masks in accordance with our policies and practice social distancing and proper hand washing techniques to help mitigate the potential for spreading any germs.

What will change this semester?

  • Gaitors used as masks will no longer meet the campus requirement for face covering.  This is based on the research widely accepted that illustrates that gaitors do not prevent the airflow at enough of level to minimize risk of transmission between individuals.
  • More check points;  expect that in the initial weeks of the semester and at random periods through-out that admission to classes, the dining hall, athletics, fitness center, programs on campus, etc. will be granted only after a student presents their CoVerified app in a CLEARED status.  Stay current on your symptom checks and your required testing to stay in the CLEAR.
  • The TESTING CENTER will now located in Daniels Auditorium – for the duration of the spring semester.

Finally let us know how you intend to spend the semester. 

Please complete this form https://www.nichols.edu/mystatus in order to indicate how you plan to attend Nichols this spring (Remote, Resident, or Commuter).   If you are changing to a remote only status in the spring please change your status in CoVerified as well, to “REMOTE” – click on the three dots in the upper right hand corner of your status page (CLEARED or RESTRICTED) and click on “go remote”.   This will change your status in CoVerified.  This can be changed at a later time if your change your status again.

Best wishes for a healthy end to your winter break – we are looking forward to having the Hill full of Bison again!  Please feel free to email if you have any questions about the information shared today.

-PJB

PJ Boggio

Vice President of Student Affairs

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