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End of Semester Update: COVID-19 Response FAQs

A message from COVID-19 Task Force Leadership

As we go into the end of the semester and winter months, we are seeing an increase in COVID-19 in MA. We all must be vigilant to follow protocols and utilize precaution.

During spring semester, the daily use of CoVerified and weekly testing will be required for on-campus students and strongly encouraged for all community members including employees.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I know what our numbers are on campus? How many COVID-19 cases have we had?

  • Please remember to check our data dashboard. We update it every Monday morning with the results of the testing we are doing on campus for students and employees.

Why has Marsh Dining been closed for cleaning several times?

  • SSU is following the MA state guidance for responding to COVID-19. Our dining halls follow the Safety Standards for Restaurants, and under this guidance, we must close and clean or disinfect the dining hall if we learn that someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 has spent time in the dining hall.
  • Moving forward, if we learn that someone has tested positive after dining in the indoor seating area of the dining hall during a period of time when they could have been infectious, we will close the seating area and only provide grab and go meals until the seating area is disinfected.
  • However, if we learn that an employee has tested positive, we will close the Marsh Dining Operation for disinfection and move to North Dining for a period. Employees are getting tested weekly.

What is deep or enhanced cleaning?

SSU continues to follow cleaning and disinfecting throughout campus several times a day following our MA state guidance. If we learn that someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 was in a space during a period of time when they could have been infectious, we will close the space to conduct a deep cleaning and disinfecting in accordance with CDC guidelines. At SSU, we bring in an external vendor who specializes in disinfecting spaces from the virus.

If I eat at Marsh dining and then hear that it is closed in order to disinfect it due to COVID-19, do I need to quarantine? Am I at risk?

The Salem Board of Health and Massachusetts Department of Health do not believe that you are at greater risk if you have been in a location where someone who tested positive spent some time.

Only individuals who are considered close contacts of that person may be at greater risk of exposure and should quarantine for the next 14 days to make sure that they have not contracted the disease and do not expose others.

You can continue with your daily activities, but please take our protocols seriously and make sure to monitor your symptoms, get tested, continue to wear a mask, and physically distance.

When will I be notified if there have been individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19 near me?

  • We will notify you if you are considered a close contact of someone who has tested positive for COVID-19
  • We may notify you if you have been in contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 for a period of time but are not considered a close contact, and do not have to quarantine.
  • We will notify faculty or employers if someone is unable to come to campus because they must quarantine or isolate due to COVID-19, but we will only share general information.
  • We will send out a campus wide or group message if we believe that a group of people are at risk of exposure to COVID-19 due to possible community spread on campus.

When is someone considered a close contact and what happens next?

A close contact is someone who has been within 6 feet or less for 15 minutes or more within a 24 hours period from a person who is known to be positive for the virus in the contagious period, with or without a mask.

Any on-campus response is determined on a case-by-case basis on when and where a person was on campus during their infectious period, and is determined by health services and HR, in collaboration with contact tracers and the local board of health.

If you are considered a close contact, you will receive a call from CHS or HR to explain the situation and ask you to quarantine. If you are identified as a close contact, you are at risk of becoming infected with COVID-19 within the 14-day quarantine period and as such are asked to remain in your quarantine space, away from ALL others for your defined quarantine period. We will provide information specific to your needs, testing and health recommendations, resources to support, and regular follow up phone calls to help you to effectively quarantine and ensure you have what you need to do so safely. Residential students will receive daily meals to their room.

For students, we will reach out to their in-person faculty to ask for flexibility so that the student is still able to complete the class. For employees, we will work with you on how to take your time and connect you with additional resources if needed.

Following or complying with quarantine is crucial in order to stop the spread of the disease. It is also a requirement for students. Violating quarantine will lead to a referral to community standards and students are at risk of being suspended from housing or the University.

What do I do if I believe that I have been exposed to a person who could have COVID?

If you have NOT been identified as a close contact based on the most recent CDC and state public health guidance, you are NOT at increased risk of being infected and do not need to quarantine at this time.

However, out of an abundance of caution, we would strongly encourage you to:

  • Monitor your symptoms every day and do not come to campus or attend in-person activities if you experience any new symptom. Testing is recommended if you develop any symptoms but you should NOT come to testing at O’Keefe. Our staff at O’Keefe do not wear the necessary PPE to test symptomatic or exposed individuals in this space. Instead, please protect the health of our staff and other students by calling CHS if you are a student or calling HR if you are a staff member.
  • Access free, on campus testing. Please schedule this on your CoVerified app or at The CoVerified app is now on the Google Play store, you can download and use the app on IPhones and Android mobile phones.
  • If you have any questions about your personal health or develop symptoms at any time, please contact health services at 978.542.6413 or via your health portal.

If you believe you are a close contact of someone who tested positive, contact CHS if you are a student, or contact HR if you are an employee.

Reminders for Community Members On Campus

  • Do a daily symptom check before leaving your room or your house. Use CoVerified every day for the symptom check.
    • If you notice any new symptoms that could be associated with COVID-19, do not come to campus. STAY HOME.
      • Students should contact Counseling and Health Services (CHS) — 978.542.6413 or use the health portal.
      • Employees should contact their supervisors and Ezekiel Holt in Human Resources (HR) — 978.542.7229
  • Take advantage of free weekly testing on campus. Schedule weekly tests using CoVerified moving forward.
  • During spring semester, the daily use of CoVerified and weekly testing will be required for on-campus students and strongly encouraged for all community members including employees.
  • Continue to wear a mask at all times when you are in public.
  • Continue to physically distance with everyone who is outside of your direct family or “pod.”
    • Being in physical proximity (less than 6 feet) with someone for 15 minutes or more throughout a 24-hour period puts you at greater risk for exposure or need to quarantine if that person happens to test positive.
  • Continue to practice good hygiene and wash your hands frequently, disinfect spaces and items before and after you use them.
  • Remember to get your flu shot this month if you have not already.

Thank you for your diligence and efforts in protecting our community from COVID-19 spread. 

Please visit if you have any further questions about our Salem State University specific COVID protocols.

  • You can send general questions to:
  • Students can contact counseling and health services at 978.542.6413 or use the health portal to communicate with a provider.
  • Employees can contact HR or reach out directly to Ezekiel Holt at 978.542.7229.

Elisa Castillo, PhD                                                      
Associate Dean of Students for Wellness     

Gene Labonte
Associate Vice President for Public Safety and Risk Management

COVID-19 Task Force
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