Frequently Asked Questions


College Community Guide to COVID-19

This page will provide general information about COVID-19. For information specific to you, select an option below.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding COVID-19, please email covid19 [at]

Last Updated April 6, 11:59 am

About COVID-19

What is coronavirus?

2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) is a virus that causes respiratory illness. Symptoms can include fever, cough, congestion, runny nose, stuffy nose, difficulty breathing, severe weakness, and pneumonia.

How does it spread?

Much is unknown about how COVID-19, a new coronavirus, spreads. At this time, the CDC has advised that it believes it is spread from person to person and occurs among close contacts (about six feet). Person-to-person spread is thought to occur mainly via respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes, similar to how influenza and other respiratory infections spread. These droplets can land in the mouth or nose of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs. It’s unclear if a person can get coronavirus by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes.

Should I leave my home or residence hall?

Public health officials say it’s fine to take solitary walks outdoors, provided you’re able to give a wide berth (minimum of 6 feet) to other pedestrians. However, on April 5, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh instituted a voluntary 9:00 pm–6:00 am curfew, and recommended that people in the city of Boston wear a cloth mask over their nose and mouth any time they go out in public, including on walks, and to grocery stores and pharmacies.

I feel anxious/worried about COVID-19. What should I do?

Students who are experiencing increased anxiety or stress related to concerns about the coronavirus may contact a counselor at Emerson Counseling and Psychological Services (ECAPS). Faculty and staff who are experiencing increased anxiety or stress related to concerns about the coronavirus may contact the Employee Assistance Program at 800-828-8025.

Where can I get more information?

U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s 2019 Novel Coronavirus page has up-to-date information and the College’s web page has links to federal, state, city, and College resources.

College Operations

Last Updated 4/10/2020 at  4:24 pm EST

Are the Equipment Distribution Center (EDC), editing suites, studio spaces, and Iwasaki Library open?

Student access to all campus buildings is restricted until further notice. This includes computer labs, Media Services Center, Media Technologies & Production (MTP), the Equipment Distribution Center (EDC), production spaces, rehearsal studios, 172 Tremont Street, and the Fitness Center. Members of faculty and staff continue to have access to academic and administrative buildings. 

Regarding the Iwasaki Library, please see the below details.

Is quarantine on campus likely?

We currently do not have anyone on campus in quarantine with COVID-19. Should it be necessary to quarantine someone on campus, the College has a plan in place to facilitate that process.

Will I receive a credit for room and board?

We will be issuing partial credit for spring semester room and board charges, due to these unprecedented circumstances. We are continuing to review our policy and will provide further details as soon as possible. 

Are we still sending athletic teams on travel engagements?

As of March 12, the New England Women's and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) has canceled the spring Regular Season Conference Schedule and NEWMAC Spring Championships.

Will Commencement still take place? What about the EVVYs?

The College has made the difficult decision to postpone the 2020 Commencement Exercises, but is committed to celebrating the Class of 2020 and its achievements. Planning is underway for a virtual ceremony, and the College is will hold an in-person gathering, once it is safe to do so. 

EVVYs advisors also have decided to cancel the in-person April 19 EVVYs Gala and the in-person May 8 EVVYs Award Show. Despite these cancellations, EVVY nominations will still be revealed on April 6. Advisors are evaluating alternative ways to announce the winners and are exploring different modalities to ensure co-curricular credit.

Are campus visits, tours, and information sessions being affected at this time?

The College has cancelled our April 4 and April 25 Picture Yourself at Emerson undergraduate admitted student events, as well as all spring graduate admission events. 

We are not currently offering on-campus undergraduate or graduate admission visits or events. We hope to be able to offer these visit options later this spring, and will update our website as soon as we are able to do so.

We are now offering a number of virtual visit options for admitted and prospective undergraduate and graduate students! We encourage you to explore all that Emerson has to offer and connect with us virtually. Please check back often, we will be adding to our virtual visit options in the coming days and weeks.

All Graduate Admission Events have been cancelled, but we are still offering virtual meetings and calls with current students and admission liaisons. Virtual Accepted Student events will be posted on our Accepted Students and Graduate Events pages and sent via email to accepted students for students to meet faculty and experience the Emerson community. Please contact gradadmission [at] or (617) 824-8610 with any questions or concerns.

We are now offering virtual admitted undergraduate student information sessions and will be offering additional virtual options for both undergraduate and graduate students in the coming days. Please contact us directly so we can assist with virtual visit options.

What is the policy in regards to events in student spaces?

All campus on-campus events have been cancelled
We will continue to evaluate the situation at two-week intervals.

Will any Emerson facilities be enlisted to help with the COVID-19 response?

An agreement between Emerson College and Tufts Medical Center for use of Emerson residential space is underway. Tufts will continue to use the hotel across the street from the hospital until either the predicted surge occurs and/or the hotel closes. At that point, Tufts will notify the College 96 hours in advance if its medical personnel need to take occupancy at the Paramount Residence Hall.

How does Emerson clean and disinfect facilities?

Emerson College Facilities Management personnel clean common areas around campus on a daily basis and have implemented measures to clean and disinfect surfaces in public areas that are touched frequently. There are also dispensers throughout campus containing hand sanitizer. Hand sanitizer can help prevent the spread of the virus, though proper hand-washing technique is deemed to be more effective by the CDC.

The College has increased the number of housekeeping staff and purchased additional equipment to clean all common areas nightly. Common areas include; classrooms, hallways, common bathrooms, dining areas, lobbies, hallways, the Bobbi Brown and Steven Plofker Gym, and the Fitness Center. Offices are being disinfected twice per week; faculty offices are also being disinfected three times per week. The equipment used is the highly effective Clorox 360 disinfecting and sanitizing machine, which applies a fine mist of anti-viral disinfectant to all hard and soft surfaces. 

In addition, ample paper products and to-go containers for use in the Dining Center are available if needed, and paper towels have been added to restrooms that have hand dryers only.

We will continue to monitor recommendations from the CDC for preventing the spread of the virus.

How do I speak with the Student Financial Services staff?

Student Financial Services staff may be reached at 617-824-8655.

What hours will the mailroom be open?

The mailroom currently plans to be open Monday-Friday, 9:00 am–6:00 pm.

Access to Campus Buildings & Services

Iwasaki Library

Beginning March 18, Iwasaki Library will operate as a virtual library.

Research Help 

Reference chat and Zoom consultation services for Spring 2020 will be available for Boston, Emerson Los Angeles, and Kasteel Well students and faculty:

Monday–Thursday: 10:00 am–7:00 pm ET
Friday: 10:00 am–4:00 pm ET
Sunday: 2:00–6:00 pm ET

Contact us via email, IM, SMS, or request a video consultation with a librarian via Zoom.

EBooks, Online Articles, and Streaming

See our Distance Learning guide: for details on how to access our virtual collections and best practices for online learning.

Interlibrary Loan (ILL)

ILL is available to students as long as the lending library remains open. We are working with faculty to provide access to learning materials through Canvas courses, in addition to providing students access to materials for research and learning.

Amazon Smile Wishlists - Kindle Books for Course Readings (No Video)

In some cases, ebooks are not accessible as multi-user licenses to libraries. Faculty and librarians will be consulting on accessing Kindle book content students need to complete their course work. Kindle books may be read on any mobile device using the free Kindle app. More information on this process will be forthcoming.

Returning Materials

The library lobby book-drop will be open to returns when the Walker Building is open. Students who are no longer on campus can return materials in September when they arrive for the fall semester. If you are not planning to return to campus in the fall, you can mail us returns at Emerson College Library, 120 Boylston Street, Boston MA 02116. 
Have questions about returning materials? Call us at (617) 824-8668 or email us at circulation [at] Have questions about accessing materials electronically? Email our reference librarians at reference [at]
Please be aware that interlibrary loans need to be returned before you leave campus.


Overdue fines and recalls are now suspended. Please be aware that if items are not returned in September that you may be charged an item replacement fee. 

Social Justice Center

Out of an abundance of caution and care for the community, the staff of the Social Justice Center will be working in alternative ways that best support community health and well-being. We will continue to be available by phone, email, and online via Zoom, Skype, Facetime, WhatsApp, Google Hangouts, etc. Please contact us if you'd like to connect. 

Social Justice Center

Sylvia, Alayne, Samantha, & Jae
sjc [at]

Healing and Advocacy

Melanie & Greta
advocate [at]

Elma Lewis Center

Tam, Ashley, & Jeeyoon
elmalewiscenter [at]

Title IX

Pam & Ryan
titleix [at]

Health, Wellness & Prevention

I am a student; what do I do if I feel sick?

If you are sick, stay home. As of March 23, all classes will be conducted online. Please notify your instructor if you are too ill to participate in class remotely. If your illness lasts more than five days, and you believe you may struggle to complete the semester, please contact the Office of Student Success at 617-824-8650. Please call the Center for Health and Wellness to discuss your symptoms. If you remain on campus and are unable to visit the Dining Center, please contact your residence director to arrange for meals to be delivered.

I am a faculty or staff member; what do I do if I feel sick?

If you are sick, stay home. Please notify your manager or department chair as soon as possible. If your illness lasts more than five days, faculty and staff should contact HR [at] or their chair. Staff should also refer to the Emerson sick time policy.

I want to get tested for COVID-19. Where can I go?

Only healthcare providers can order a test for the virus that causes COVID-19, and those requests are made in alignment with guidelines from the CDC and county or state public health offices. Approvals are based on symptoms and on risk factors such as your travel history or exposure to individuals known to have the disease. For this reason, walk-in testing is not available at any healthcare facility in the region, including Emerson’s Center for Health and Wellness.

How do I protect myself and help prevent the spread of viruses, including COVID-19?

On April 5, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh instituted a voluntary 9:00 pm–6:00 am curfew, and recommended that people in the city of Boston wear a cloth mask over their nose and mouth any time they go out in public, including on walks, and to grocery stores and pharmacies.

In addition, these simple actions below will help to prevent the spread of all respiratory viruses.

  • Keep your immunity strong by getting a flu shot if you haven’t yet.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with whom you don’t live.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with your elbow or a tissue, and then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces such as doorknobs, desktops, and keyboards.*

*See the CDC website for a list of acceptable cleaning products.

Also, see the CDC prevention website.

What should I do if I have an underlying health condition or am immunosuppressed?

Older adults and people with underlying health conditions may be at increased risk. If you have an underlying health condition and you are feeling sick, please seek medical care right away. Before you go to a doctor’s office or emergency room, call ahead and tell them about your recent travel and your symptoms.

Are there steps individuals, families, and communities can take to help prepare if there is widespread transmission of COVID-19?

COVID-19 is a new disease and we are still learning how it spreads, the severity of illness it causes, and to what extent it may spread in the United States. For additional information, see the CDC’s website

I have family and friends in an area directly affected by COVID-19. How can I manage my concern for them?

Students who are experiencing increased anxiety or stress related to concerns about COVID-19 may contact a counselor at Emerson Counseling and Psychological Services (ECAPS). Faculty and staff who are experiencing increased anxiety or stress related to concerns about the coronavirus may contact the Employee Assistance Program at 800-828-8025.

How should I clean and disinfect communal spaces?

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces (e.g., doorknobs, tables, keyboards, light switches). Use a disinfectant registered with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) or a 10 percent bleach/water solution to clean surfaces. Please avoid putting disinfectant gels or liquids on electronics and other equipment, including elevator buttons, unless they have been indicated as safe to use on those devices.

What does it mean to self-quarantine?

Self-quarantine means:

  • Staying indoors and avoiding contact with other people during the 14-day incubation window. During this time, staff and faculty remain home and students do not attend classes in person.
  • Have a designated contact person who is working with you or your supervisor to make sure you have the support you need to continue to work or pursue your studies during this time. 

If you live on campus, the College will work with you to reassign or alter your living space to ensure that you are not sharing a room or bathroom with others. Should our ability to do this become limited, we will do our best to accommodate the highest priority cases.

Public Health Response & Testing

Last Updated 4/17/2020 at 9:35 am

I want to get tested for COVID 19. Where can I go?

Only health care providers can order a test for the virus that causes COVID-19, in alignment with guidelines from the CDC, county or state public health offices. Testing decisions are based on symptoms and on risk factors such as your travel history or exposure to individuals known to have the disease. For this reason, walk-in testing is not available at any health care facility in the region, including Emerson’s Health and Wellness Center.

Please follow the directions in the “What do I do if I feel sick?” question if you are ill.

I have tested positive for the novel coronavirus. What should I do?

First and foremost, take care of yourself, seek further medical attention if your symptoms worsen  and continue medical isolation until you are cleared to leave home.  Here are two resources you will find helpful:

Additionally, in an effort to monitor how the virus is impacting the Emerson community, we are asking any student, faculty or staff member who tests positive for the novel coronavirus to voluntarily report via our Self-Reporting feature on the homepage of this website.

If you have resided or been present on one of Emerson’s campuses within 16 days of the start of your symptoms, you should also contact:

Has any member of the Emerson community tested positive for COVID-19?

Unfortunately, we have been informed that as of this writing, two students and three Emerson staff members have tested positive for COVID-19. All individuals are currently recovering in isolation at home, off campus.

One staff member was last on campus on Saturday, March 21, and the other two on April 1 and 2. None of the staff members had any contact with students. The two students were off campus when they developed symptoms, and have not been on campus for longer than 14 days.

The College will update the COVID-19 webpage weekly with the number of community members who have tested positive for the virus.

As a reminder, students with health-related questions can contact the Center for Health and Wellness at 617-824-8666 and Emerson Counseling & Psychological Services at 617-824-8595.

Staff may contact the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) 24 hours/7 days/week, 365 days/year at 1-800-828-6025 for support for themselves or family members during this challenging time.

Are there resources for combatting stigmatization, bias, and xenophobia related to COVID-19?

We ask members of our community to review the CDC anti-stigma guidelines issued recently regarding coronavirus. The CDC advises that we collectively focus on the disease that is causing the problem and avoid casting blame on individuals, cultures, or nationalities.