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Reopening Northeastern

COVID-19 Control Plan



In accordance with the Massachusetts Phased Reopening Plan and COVID-19 Order No. 33 issued by Governor Baker on May 18, 2020, and the COVID-19 Higher Education Control Plan revised on November 17, 2020, the following COVID-19 Control Plan has been developed and enacted by Northeastern University.  This Plan incorporates the required Safety Plan and reflects rules required by the Order, Reopening Plan and directives issued by the Massachusetts Division of Labor Standards.

As set forth below, Northeastern has established a range of protocols to promote safety and wellbeing on its campuses and research locations for all members of our community, and for its neighbors.

Part 1 – Institution Information

Institution Name: Northeastern University

Address: 360 Huntington Avenue Boston, MA 02115

Primary point of contact: Michael A. Davis, Vice President Campus Safety/ Chief of Police

Part 2 – Social Distancing and Hygiene Protocols

Northeastern has established safety rules applicable to campus and research locations and taken other affirmative safety-related measures that include the following:

  • Enacting a Social Distancing Protocol that includes a requirement that employees, students, vendors and visitors to remain at least 6 feet apart, provides for adjustments to campus space to accommodate distancing requirements, outlines signage requirements for social distancing and addresses alterations to workspaces, classrooms and other areas on campus consistent with social distancing requirements.
  • Implemented a Face Covering Protocol for employees, students, vendors and visitors to wear face coverings in all common areas, and describes procedures for appropriate use, disposal of and care for face coverings and masks.
  • Introduced a Hygiene Protocol that requires all employees, students, vendors and visitors to follow practices based upon CDC and other public health guidance concerning hand washing, workspace disinfecting and use of elevators and other spaces.
  • Initiated and completed other safety-related protocols concerning how to address reports of symptoms/exposure/positive tests and contact tracing, requiring daily work readiness assessments and the completion of a return-to-campus certification, which instructs faculty, staff and students who are feeling ill or displaying COVID-19 symptoms to stay at home or in their residence hall. Other measures include addressing safety rules and protocols with all vendors to support that vendor employees who are on campus or in research locations are safety-compliant, and enacting similar requirements for visitors on campus and in research locations.
  • Created signage that has been placed throughout campus and research locations that address rules concerning social distancing, face covering and daily hygiene. Instructional signage has also been placed around campus designed to enhance social distancing, including directional guidance for foot traffic and directional one-way flow where possible, specific entry and exit procedures, identification points to highlight high-touch areas and other signage to enhance social distancing and safety across campus.
  • Prepared buildings so that hand washing and hand disinfecting products are available throughout, including sanitizer dispensers, and disinfectant wipes for surfaces. Dedicated disposal points have been provided for face coverings and other COVID-related protective equipment or gear.
  • Conducting ongoing training for employees on rules and protocols concerning social distancing, face coverings and daily hygiene and other safety-related expectations for all individuals on campus and in our research locations.

Part 3 – General Operations

Affirmative measures to control campus density consistent with federal and state requirements and guidance, including limiting occupancy and meeting sizes consistent with social distancing, staggered schedules, alternating shifts, differentiated lunch and break times and many other initiatives.

Campus office spaces, dining facilities, athletic and recreation facilities and any university-related retail locations have implemented protocols consistent with state guidelines specific to those services and amenities.

Gathering and event protocols have been established and published. Events must follow state guidelines for indoor and outdoor settings. Individuals that attend a gathering are required to wear a face mask and maintain six feet of distance.

The university has established a process for faculty and staff members to request a workplace accommodation due to their own medical condition or the medical condition of someone they live with.

Part 4 – Cleaning and Disinfecting Procedures

Cleaning protocols have been established that are informed by OSHA and CDC guidance, as well as local public health guidance.  Staff who have any cleaning responsibilities have received cleaning protocol training and cleaning vendors have been required to certify that they are adhering to our enhanced cleaning standards.  A specific cleaning protocol has been established to address areas where someone with symptoms, COVID-19 exposure or a COVID-19 test has worked within a specified period of time.

Cleaning protocols have also been established to address any situation where an employee or student has reported symptoms, exposure to COVID-19 or a positive test.

The university’s Hygiene Protocol outlines disinfecting requirements for employees in the workplace, such as wiping down commonly used surfaces in conference rooms and common areas, including touched surfaces in conference rooms, common areas, or other work spaces.  Employees are also expected to wipe down frequently touched surfaces at their workspaces upon arrival and prior to departure from campus.

Part 5 – Communication and Support

The university communicates regularly to the campus community regarding COVID-19 related protocols and provides up to date information on its COVID-19 website. Signs and visual markers have been posted throughout campus to remind individuals of COVID-19 protocols.

The university’s plan for when and how to adjust operations includes careful consideration of numerous factors, including guidance from public health authorities and infectious disease experts. In the event the university needs to adjust operations and discontinue in person learning, the community will be notified, and students will utilize the university’s Hybrid NUflex learning model to continue learning remotely.

The university is working closely with the Boston Public Health Commission, Massachusetts Department of Public health, and other state and local health agencies on all COVID-19 related matters that may impact the campus community and university operations.

Northeastern offers substantial resources to support the university community. These resources include emotional and mental health services available to students through University Health and Counseling Services and Find at Northeastern and to employees through Northeastern’s Employee Assistance Program.

Part 6 – Detection and Response

The university has established the following comprehensive detection and response protocols applicable to campus and research locations at all times, including when school is not in session:

  • A robust COVID-19 viral surveillance testing process in coordination with Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC). Students, as well as faculty and staff members regularly working on campus, are required to be tested multiple times per week, in excess of state recommendations. Testing protocols are posted on the university’s COVID-19 website.
  • Northeastern’s rigorous arrival testing protocols are more stringent than state guidelines. All students arriving to campus, from in-state, out of state or abroad, must be tested immediately upon arrival, and are required to quarantine in their designated residence until they receive a negative result. Students will also be required to be tested two more times before fully engaging in campus activities, on the third and fifth day after their initial test. Employees returning from another country or state not designated as lower-risk are required to be tested and receive a negative result before returning to in-person work. Faculty members must be tested and receive a negative result in the seven-day period prior to their return to the classroom. Employees can come on campus to utilize Northeastern’s PCR testing process and must work remotely away from campus until they receive a negative result. Northeastern has a process in place to monitor arrival testing compliance.  Northeastern routinely communicates with campus community members about COVID-19 procedures and protocols, including travel restrictions, testing and quarantine requirements.
  • Northeastern’s testing center is open 7 days a week, including when classes are not in session. The university has created a separate testing facility for students exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19.
  • Reporting results and full demographic data electronically, including but not limited to name, date of birth, full address, gender, race and ethnicity of students, staff and faculty tested by the university for COVID-19 to the MA Department of Public Heath as required.
  • Northeastern has developed a robust contact tracing program in conjunction with BPHC to address faculty, students and staff who experience symptoms, believe they may have been exposed to COVID-19 or have tested positive. Northeastern contact tracers provide resources and support to community members, including working with individuals to make sure they have space and support to quarantine or isolate as needed.
  • The university has designated wellness housing for students who need to isolate because they tested positive for COVID-19, or need to quarantine as a “close contact.”  Students in quarantine or isolation receive support and services from Northeastern contact tracers and housing staff.
  • Students who are quarantined in designated wellness housing due to close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19 should remain in place until completing the 14-day quarantine period, in accordance with state and local guidance. Quarantined students may break quarantine after 7 days, provided that: (1) they do not have any symptoms, (2) they receive a negative result at least 5 days after exposure to someone diagnosed with COVID-19, and (3) they continue to self-monitor for symptoms for the remainder of the 14-day period. 
  • Students who test positive will isolate in designated wellness housing immediately for a 10-day period, in accordance with state and local guidance.
  • Communicate to students that they should receive a negative test result within 72 hours of departing from campus and the risk of spreading infection to others if they do not.












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