Olivia Faulkner ’22
Social Media and Marketing Director
While we are all enthusiastic about coming back to campus, it will be a very different experience this year. The college distributed a 54-page “Return to Campus” handbook outlining all the new campus policies and procedures, and more versions of the handbook are expected as things change during the semester.
“You will be getting emails twice a day through this pandemic,” President Hopey said at a town hall earlier this month. Many of these emails are Covid-19 alerts containing Do’s and Don’ts related to hygiene, social distancing, and mask-wearing.
Merrimack provided all students, faculty, and staff returning to campus with a weekly Covid-19 testing time. Students can find their designated testing time on MyMack under their course schedule. Testing takes place in the Multi-Purpose Room of the Sakowich Campus Center. It is imperative that each student shows up on time to their assigned testing time to keep the campus community safe and healthy.
While on campus, social distancing as well as mask-wearing is required. Merrimack’s mask policy is that all are required to wear a mask at all times outside of assigned residential areas or private offices. Students may take off their masks when they are eating or drinking, but other than that, masks must stay on, especially when in the classroom.
Masks must fit snugly to your face, and cover both the nose and mouth. Do not pull it down to your chin as this puts you and others at risk for cross contamination. If you use cloth masks, these must be washed regularly to minimize the spread of COVID-19.
To ensure social distancing, there are stickers placed on floors around academic and community spaces to help us remain six feet away from each other.
Handwashing and sanitizing are also incredibly important. A good practice is to wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap that is at least 60 percent alcohol. It is recommended that you do this as often as you can when you are in a public space and touching either communal items or non-sanitized items.
In classrooms, the college administration is asking that you sit in the same seat for each class meeting, and wipe down your space before using the seat. If you must leave class to use the restroom, it is recommended that you resanitize that space. Sanitizing supplies are located in or right outside each classroom.
The college also recommends sanitizing high-touch surfaces, such as cell phones, laptops, desks, and sinks, at least once a day.
Purchasing a UV sanitizing box for yourself is another way to be extra safe. You simply plug it into the wall and leave your items in the box until the box has finished sanitizing your items. This is great for keys, MackCards, cell phones, or other smaller items you find yourself touching multiple times per day. The cleaning process takes about 10 minutes and kills all germs and viruses that may have previously been present on your items.
For residential students, room dividers have been installed in each room and this is the only piece of furniture that students are permitted to move. All furniture in residence halls and around campus are placed strategically in order to ensure social distancing.
Residence life also divided students into cohorts based on floors and hall sections. For example, one cohort in Royal Crest consists of a suite of four as well as two other suites on the same floor. These are the people you can have in your room without penalty, as well as people students are encouraged to share meals with and spend the most time with.
If you do choose to have a member of your cohort over, you must have permission from your roommate. This is not to say that students are not allowed to socialize with others outside of their residence halls, but if you do decide to do so, this must be on campus in a public setting, such as at the library or sitting at a table outside.
Students are only permitted in their own residence halls, and if they are seen entering a different residence hall, Hopey guaranteed automatic expulsion. Commuter students are not allowed in any residence halls.
The staff at Merrimack worked day and night to ensure that students are equipped with the tools they need for a safe and successful semester. As students, it is our job to use these tools, follow these policies, and be vigilant that our peers are doing the same.
Although most students are not enthusiastic about all of these new policies and protocols, students need to follow them in order to remain a member of the Merrimack community.
This is our new normal, and we must abide by the rules to get back to the Merrimack that we know and love.
Questions about policies or Covid-19 can be directed to the Task Force at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call the switchboard at 978-683-7111 to be connected to the appropriate line.