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Important Spring 2021 COVID-19 Policies

Dear Students:

We are looking forward to beginning the spring trimester. Thanks to the efforts of our entire community, we made it through the fall and we are ready to do it again.

Unfortunately, COVID-19 is now far more prevalent in our communities than it was in the fall. This will require us to begin our term with a much stricter ease-in period than the one we had at the start of the fall trimester. It is imperative that we all adhere to the policies and rules of the ease-in period so we can open safely and continue through the spring without disruption.

Behaviors that negatively impact the health and wellbeing of other members of the community and/or impact the ability of the university to remain open will be taken seriously. Students who have access to the campus (as a residential or non-residential student) and violate these policies should expect to lose the privilege of living on campus or coming to campus. This may include removal from the residence halls with no refunds.

I ask that you review the Back to Bentley website, the COVID-19 policy addendum and this email carefully. All of us at Bentley want you to be successful. That is our goal.

Here are some important reminders as well as some new policies to be mindful of all spring:

Face coverings. The three W’s remain central to our efforts and are requirements on campus – wear a face covering, watch your distance, wash your hands. Face coverings are required on campus for all members of the community – this includes individuals who have received the COVID-19 vaccination and those that have recovered from a COVID-19 infection.

Access to campus. Residential students who access campus and/or their residence hall without following the move-in/arrival protocol face removal from housing with no refund. Residential students must follow the individual instructions they have received, check in with the residential center and confirm all pre-arrival tasks are complete and have their first screening test.

Ease-in period. We will ease into the trimester (like we did with the fall) with these restrictions:

  • In-person classes will not begin until February 1. Non-residential students are not allowed on campus except for their required appointments in the screening test center unless pre-approved. Non-residential students who violate this policy will not be allowed on campus for the remainder of the trimester.
  • Residential students won’t be allowed to visit other residence halls until at least February 1 (ID access will be limited to a student’s assigned residence hall), and off-campus students won’t be allowed to visit residence halls until that time. Specific building by building policies for visitors to residence hall rooms, suites and apartments will be communicated by residence directors. Please be sure to read these policies and limit any visits by persons not assigned to your living space. Violations of the guest policy may impact residential status.
  • All dining will be served “to go” until February 1. Meals can be taken back to residence halls.
  • The library and Jennison will be closed until February 1.
  • Until February 1, classrooms will be accessible only to residential students who wish to join classes remotely outside of their residence hall, suite or apartment.
  • The fitness and Dana centers will be closed until at least February 1. Outdoor fields and the track will be available for student use. Face covering and distancing requirements must still be observed while using outdoor recreation space.

Off-campus travel. Data indicates that 20% of the residential student COVID-19 infections at Bentley in the fall traced back to off campus travel—visits home and to friends. Therefore, residential students are expected to not travel off campus for the duration of the ease period (until February 1). All resident students, for the safety of your peers, should not leave campus except for work, internships and essential activities (grocery shopping, medical appointments, etc.). Visiting Bentley students off campus is not considered an essential activity. If overnight travel is necessary, students will be required to complete the onboarding process (including producing a negative test that was taken within the past 72 hours and a test upon arrival), self-quarantine, avoid close contacts and wait for a negative test result before resuming activities on campus. Students needing to travel off campus overnight should email for further instructions. The university will work with students on a case-by-case basis if unique circumstances arise. This policy will be reviewed during the onboarding process and refinements will be communicated to all resident students.

Gathering restrictions/Student organization policies. Student organizations will continue to receive communication from Student Programs and Engagement regarding virtual and in-person event planning and any potential change in policies and protocols as we move forward. We will keep within state restrictions and will also have a robust series of Winter Welcome Back programs and student organization events kicking off next week for all students. For more information about these programs and other ways to safely stay engaged, please see the Events Calendar on Campus Groups:

Contact tracing amnesty. As happened in the fall, students who are known to have had a close contact with a suspected positive or tested positive case will be contacted by the state Community Tracing Collaborative (CTC) and/or our own Bentley University contact tracers. It is critical (and required by the COVID addendum to the student handbook) that students answer fully and honestly all the questions asked by the contact tracers. Information provided for contact tracing purposes will not be used by the university in the student conduct process. Students who fail to fully cooperate with contact tracers will, however, be subject to a conduct process. 

Penalties for violation of screening policies. Students who have been given access to the test/screen program are required to stay current within the testing program. To maintain on campus privileges, students must make and keep their screening test appointments and may only miss a screening only for an excused reason such as illness or quarantine. Students who miss screening tests without excuses are subject to fines, probation and/or removal from housing (with no refund) and/or banned from accessing campus. Further details will be communicated to students including how to request an excuse. Remember, students who recently recovered from COVID-19 should schedule screening tests starting 3 months after the date of their positive test as detailed here.

I know this is hard and as I have written to you before—we all want nothing more than to return to normal. Our hope is that we can safely move through this ease-in period, see infections rates drop in the greater Waltham community and our own and then add more opportunities for you to engage and be active on campus.

We will continue to keep you update on our progress.

Dean Shepardson