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Moving into a New Phase of the Pandemic

A message from President Keenan and Dr. Elisa Castillo

Dear Viking Students,

We are very excited for the start of the fall semester and want to provide you with this update on fall safety protocols. As we have entered a new phase of the COVID-19 pandemic, our campus is no longer in emergency mode and we will be transitioning to a more traditional campus experience this fall.  

This is welcome news, and we are both relieved and grateful that the vast majority of our community has had access to the vaccine, and we are no longer seeing the significant increase in severe health impacts and hospitalizations that were so concerning in 2020.  

Please be advised that effective September 1, 2022, campus operations including classrooms, offices, residence halls, dining halls, meeting rooms, and events may return to full occupancy, and most COVID-19 restrictions will be lifted. With so many more people on campus, this also means that some of the flexibility available to us due to a de-densified campus strategy during the past two years, such as room reservations and parking availability, will be reduced.  

We recognize that the pandemic is not over and we will continue to expect community members to be vaccinated, will provide access to testing, and be prepared to take additional precautions in the event of increased public health risks presented by new variants or surges.  

Please read the following information carefully to learn more about what this means and changes to our COVID-19 protocols. Also, please be aware that as further information becomes available, including modifications to comply with any subsequent labor agreements, will be communicated to our community. 

Monitoring Conditions 

As we have done throughout the pandemic, we will continue to follow state and federal public health guidance and will be prepared to change or adjust our response protocols should conditions warrant.  

Elisa Castillo, PhD, associate dean of students for wellness, will continue to lead our COVID-19 and public health efforts going forward, in collaboration with counseling and health services, human resources, and university leadership. The COVID-19 response team will no longer be meeting regularly and will only be convened when necessary.

COVID-19 Protocols 

Vaccine Mandate 

  • The vaccine mandate remains in effect for both students and employees.  
  • Being up to date with your vaccination means you’ve had the initial series plus one booster; the second booster vaccine for those who qualify, is strongly encouraged. 
  • Students should upload proof of their vaccinations, if they have not done so already, to the student health portal.
  • Students may request exemptions for medical or religious reasons through the student health portal.
  • Please note that students may have additional immunization requirements. You can view these requirements on this page or within the “Medical Clearances” section of your student health portal.
  • Students who receive an exemption are not required to participate in surveillance testing. 


  • Our campus remains mask flexible and community members are encouraged to always have a mask with them in case they want to wear one.  
  • In a mask flexible environment, a student, faculty member, administrator, or other individual cannot be required to wear (or not wear) a mask should they choose differently.
  • If you are meeting with someone in their personal enclosed space such as an individual’s private office, please be respectful if they prefer that you wear a mask.  
  • Students who choose to wear a mask are encouraged to provide their own and wear the most effective masks indoors, such as a KN95, especially if they have health concerns or greater risks; a limited supply of masks will be available on campus. 
  • Healthcare settings on campus will continue to require mask use, per state guidance. This includes counseling and health services and the athletic training offices.
  • Please note that if conditions warrant it, our campus may reinstate a mandatory mask requirement, among other precautions. 


  • Community members should stay home if they are sick, regardless of whether or not you may have COVID-19. Symptomatic surveys that will provide individualized guidance will be available for students and employees at
  • Students should continue to monitor for COVID-19 symptoms on a daily basis, and should access COVID testing if you are experiencing new symptoms before coming to campus. 
  • Students seeking additional guidance should contact counseling and health services. The COVID-19 support line is 978.542.3240 or email More information will be made available on the website prior to the start of the fall semester.  


  • Free PCR tests (24-48 hour results from drop-off time) will be available on campus for students, and rapid tests will also be made available as supplies last.  
  • PCR tests will be grab and go, and available at: the second floor of North Campus Dining Commons, the Bertolon School of Business’s main lobby, the South Campus cafeteria, the Gassett Fitness Center atrium, and outside of counseling and health services in the Ellison Campus Center.
  • Salem State is partnering with the Broad institute to provide PCR testing and they have changed to a new system, COLOR, for self-collected COVID-19 testing and results. More information about how to access these tests will be available on the website in early August. 
  • Students are also encouraged to obtain their own rapid antigen tests. Most health insurance plans will cover these tests, often with no out of pocket expenses. You can learn about more options that may be available to you here or contact your primary care provider.
  • Students experiencing symptoms are strongly encouraged to contact counseling and health services for health care and testing.  
  • Please note that asymptomatic surveillance testing will not be required of students this academic year. This may be modified in periods of increased COVID-19 risk.
  • We do encourage students to access testing before they return to campus this fall.

Quarantine and Isolation 

  • Students who test positive should follow university quarantine and isolation protocols and remain off campus for the appropriate period of time.  
  • We will provide public health guidance and will encourage the positive student to communicate with their contacts as needed; contact tracing (for close and proximate contact notifications) will not be available. 
  • Residential students will be required to have a departure plan in the event that they test positive, and complete their isolation period at home.
  • With the closure of Bates, we will maintain a small number of spaces on the Harrington/Central Campus as isolation beds for residential students unable to isolate off-campus due to extenuating circumstances. If these spaces are full, students will need to isolate in their assigned residence hall rooms. In this scenario, roommates would be notified so they can take the necessary precautions. 

COVID-19 Data Dashboard and CoVerified 

  • We are no longer maintaining a COVID-19 data dashboard, for several reasons including at home testing is much more common and therefore the dashboard will not reflect the health of our campus. Instead, we will periodically update the community on current trends and public health guidance, especially if our local community levels change.
  • Effective August 1, students are no longer required or expected to perform symptoms checks in CoVerified or present their CoVerified badges. Your records on CoVerified are also available to you until September 15.
  • Students should report their positive results through the student health portal.  

Campus Occupancy


  • In-person classes may resume at 100% occupancy.  
  • Instruction must be delivered in the modality appearing on the official class schedule. 

Meetings and Events 

  • Meeting and event spaces may operate at 100% capacity. 
  • If some meeting attendees want to participate remotely, the meeting format should be either virtual or hybrid. 
  • Approval for large scale events is returning to the major campus event process
  • Outdoor programs and events are encouraged in good weather.
  • Please note that event protocols may be modified in periods of increased COVID risk. 

Residence and Dining Halls 

  • Residence and dining halls may operate at full capacity.  
  • Marsh Hall Dining Commons, Lower North Dining Commons, Dunkin’, and Starbucks will be operational during the academic year.
  • More information about the fall dining program will be shared prior to the start of the semester.

Thank you to Gene Labonte, associate vice president for public safety and risk management, Elisa Castillo, and all members of the COVID-19 response team for their tremendous efforts in keeping our campus safe during these past two-plus years.  

We would also like thank our entire Viking community for your continued diligence, respect and support of one another. 

We look forward to seeing our Viking students on campus soon, and we hope the rest of your summer is enjoyable.  


John D. Keenan  

Elisa Castillo, PhD
Associate Dean of Students for Wellness



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