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COVID-19 Campus Protocols and Preparedness Measures

Dear Campus Community,

This July 2020, the Commonwealth moved into phase three of reopening Massachusetts, and Salem State welcomed back a small number of students, faculty and staff to campus for our summer session II semester. We are fortunate that our state is managing the spread of COVID-19 and our case numbers, positive testing rates and hospitalizations continue to decrease, allowing the cautious return to campus. Thanks to all for following public health guidance and helping to curb the spread of this disease.

Over the last months, we have developed and implemented health and safety measures in compliance with the State Mandatory Safety Standards for Workplace, in preparation of the slow repopulation of our campus. This summer II semester, we are hosting six in-seat class sections where in-person interaction is crucial for the learning goals of the class. We are also working with programs and departments on their repopulation plans to return a portion of employees to on-campus work this summer or fall. Departments or areas that want to return a portion of their staff to campus can submit a control plan and engage in a two-step process with HR and the health and safety team to prepare to return. To learn more about this process and access resources, visit the Polaris COVID-19 Emergency Health and Safety Processes and Protocols channel for faculty and staff.

We appreciate the assistance and collaboration of faculty, staff and administrators in this endeavor. Adapting to this pandemic while continuing our work, has been a heavy lift, and we continue to be impressed and grateful for the creativity, flexibility, dedication, and grit that our community has demonstrated during this time. There is still much work ahead to help us prepare for the fall. At this time, we want you to be aware of the work happening on campus, as well as what to expect when you return.

Health and Safety Protocols

The health and safety implementation team has worked with campus leadership and essential employees to:

  • De-densify campus
  • Enhanced cleaning and disinfecting guidelines and schedule
  • Updated to HVAC systems to improve air flow
  • Reconfigured spaces to encourage physical distancing
  • Distributed additional disinfectant supplies and hand sanitizer stations in classrooms and administrative and academic offices
  • Created and distributed signage throughout campus to remind all to follow public health guidelines
  • Created and distributed health and safety protocols for campus in collaboration with academic affairs and student life. This includes an update to the course information policy that was approved by the governance committee this summer.
  • Created and distributed health and safety training for employees, faculty and students prior to returning to campus.
  • Distributed cloth face masks to students and employees
  • Increased resources for student health care and public health


Community members who return to campus must follow health and safety protocols. These include:

  • Participate in the health and safety training before returning to campus.
  • The most important thing we can do to protect ourselves from infection is to wash our hands frequently and effectively and increase the hygiene and disinfection of our spaces. We also need to physically distance or remain at least six feet away from others as much as possible.
  • The most important thing we can do to protect others from unknowingly spreading the disease if we are asymptomatic is to wear a cloth face covering when we are in common spaces or in the presence of others. Wearing a mask when in public or common areas on campus is now mandatory.
  • Community members will not bring un-necessary guests to campus, and will follow the amended campus event policy at this time, that does not allow large gatherings. Only essential travel will be considered.
  • In addition, all community members will monitor their health before coming to campus on a daily basis.
  • If any community member were to experience any symptom associated with COVID-19 they are to contact health services (978.542.6412) if they are student, or HR (Ezekiel Holt) if they are an employee and stay home until they receive additional guidance.
  • If the university (HR or CHS) or the local board of health were to tell a community member to quarantine or isolate, they would not be allowed back on campus until they are cleared.
  • If symptomatic, we will encourage employees to access their primary care, and can refer to local testing sites if needed, and will provide health care and testing, or referrals for students through counseling and health services. 
  • Student life will notify faculty or employers if a student needs to remain away from campus for a period of time.

What to Expect for the Fall

This fall semester, we anticipate having approximately one-third of our students back on campus for in-person or hybrid classes, including 1200 students in the residence halls. Academic affairs has updated class modalities and classroom assignments for the fall semester for almost all classes, and this information can now be viewed in Navigator. The main exception is nursing and several other departments, where we are still working with community partners on clinicals, fieldwork and other off campus coursework. Student services are planning to have reduced in-office hours and will be able to provide both in-person and remote services to our students. 

Prior to the fall semester, we will be implementing additional safety measures including:

  • Additional changes to building access and flow with limitations to elevator usage to allow physical distancing
  • Shift the housing model to accommodate all single rooms in the residence halls, with additional quarantine and isolation spaces, and no guest policy.
  • Limited office hours for in person offices and services, with meetings scheduled in advance
  • Changes to room reservations to limit indoor meetings and gatherings, as well as facilitate outdoor reservations that would allow for physical distancing
  • More.

While campus will look and feel different this year given the public health measures, we are committed to offering our students an exceptional education as well as a supportive student experience. This fall, if you come to campus, you may pass students performing in the outdoor quad, connect with your peers in Zoom or online chat rooms, and have opportunities to participate in outdoor or online fitness classes.

To learn more about Salem State’s health and safety protocols, the process for re-populating your work space, and additional guidance and resources for our faculty and staff can be found on the COVID-19 Emergency Health and Safety Processes and Protocols Polaris channel.

Thank you for your continued patience, support and flexibility as we navigate this process. We look forward to seeing some of you back on campus in the weeks ahead.

Elisa Castillo
Assistant Dean of Students for Wellness

Gene Labonte
Assistant Vice President for Public Safety and Risk Management

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