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Reduced testing requirements and Heller testing site to be closed during winter break

COVID-19 testing procedures during the winter break will see several changes including fewer testing locations and a less frequent testing requirement, according to an email sent to the community by Senior Vice President of Communications, Dan Kim, on Wednesday, Nov. 18.

The testing center in the Heller School for Social Policy and Management building will not be in operation after Nov. 20: all testing will be done in the Shapiro Admissions Center until Dec. 30. Testing hours will also be reduced while the testing requirements will change to once-a-week between Dec. 20 and Jan. 3, since fewer people will be on campus campus, according to the email.

Tests will not be administered on Nov. 26, Dec. 24, Dec. 25, Dec. 31 and Jan. 1 since the Broad Institute, which does the testing, will be closed. The weekly testing compliance will still be required during these weeks, so community members are expected to adapt to the changed schedule.

Students remaining on campus will still be required to get tested twice a week before Dec. 20 and after Jan. 3. More details about testing operations for students living on campus between Nov. 20 and Feb. 1 is available on a the winter intercession section of the university’s newly named website, “COVID-19 Response: What’s Now, What’s Next.” The email said that the university changed the “Plans for Fall 2020” to reflect the continued relevance of COVID-19.

“This reflects the fact that the pandemic is continuing to affect university operations and is likely to do so into the future, even as we hear hopeful news about vaccines under development,” said the email.

Students are “encouraged to get a test and wait for a negative result before leaving for the airport or bus station,” per the email.  

“Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker issued a recommendation that university students take a COVID-19 test within 72 hours prior to traveling home, and avoid traveling if they receive a positive result” on Thursday, Nov. 19, according to the email.

Community members are now able to remove themselves from the on-campus compliance requirements over break in the campus coronavirus portal’s settings. This feature will allow students to stop getting reminders to fill out their Daily Health Assessment over the winter break. The university asked that students do not disable this notification prior to their departures from campus since “there is the possibility” that key cards, which allow access to all on-campus buildings, may stop working.

Move out procedures were announced on Nov. 13, and were reiterated in this email. People coming to campus to pick up a student are required to complete and pass the daily health assessment, park near their students’ residence, and remain in their cars as they pick up their students. 

Students who will be on campus are prohibited from traveling outside of greater Boston, defined as east of I495, during the break. If a student does need to travel in an emergency, they must apply for and receive permission from the Dean of Students Office.

The university announced on Oct. 8 that  the start date of the spring semester would be moved to Feb. 1, there would be no February week-long break and Passover break would be reduced. 

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