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COVID-19 Information Center

June 16, 2020

Dear Members of the MCPHS Community,

As states across our nation begin phases of reopening amid the coronavirus pandemic, we write to inform you of the University’s reopening plan for the Fall 2020 semester.

MCPHS University plans to reopen in Fall 2020 in a hybrid format, providing a well-planned and comprehensive experience for our students on all three campuses. This hybrid on-campus and online experience will vary somewhat by campus and by school, as well as by programs within the schools. Our distinct goal is to provide a rich learning experience for every student, one that balances the advantages of on-campus instruction and experiences with strong online and remote learning—all while protecting the health and wellbeing of our students, faculty, and staff. If circumstances around the public health crisis change, however, we will adjust our plans accordingly based on CDC and state guidance.

As the nation’s most comprehensive healthcare university, we strive to provide students with exceptional experiences built around clinical rotations, hands-on work and simulations in state-of-the-art laboratories, research opportunities, and relationships with some of the world’s finest healthcare institutions. Our decision to reopen with a hybrid approach blends our passionate commitment to the best overall student experience with our priority of keeping every member of the MCPHS community healthy and safe.

Over the next few weeks, a detailed and comprehensive reopening plan will be completed and distributed to the entire MCPHS community. We will continue to work with deans and directors across the University regarding their academic plans. Given the broad range of undergraduate, professional, and graduate programs in health sciences, each of the Schools will communicate with their new and incoming students regarding more specific plans. The framework for conducting on-campus courses, labs, and clinical experiences—coupled with online and remote instruction—is already in place, and below is a brief initial overview of the University’s plan.

Classes will start on September 2nd as originally planned in our academic calendar and will combine classroom and online instruction. Please note one major change: on-campus class instructions will end by the Thanksgiving break, meaning that the last week of the semester and final exam week will be completed remotely. All clinical rotations/externships will continue to follow the schedules as outlined by their respective academic programs.

Instructional design of courses is now underway to make the best use of technology and software that can support the learning experience while encouraging proper safety. Those classes that do meet in person will be smaller, and we are working on dedensification plans to limit campus gathering sizes and make certain that social distancing guidelines are followed.

Other intensive efforts are underway to ensure each of our campuses provides the safest possible environment for students, faculty, and staff. We are evaluating new dedensification and safety protocols around dining facilities, residence halls, and building ventilation. We are working on new hygiene procedures, sterilization standards, and PPE distribution. Crucially, we will employ COVID-19 contact tracing procedures and obtain sufficient screening and testing supplies.

The full details around each of these areas will be distributed in the coming weeks, and the University will keep all students, faculty, and staff well informed with guidance for all procedures related to reopening as it affects them.

The University’s plan to reopen with a hybrid approach is the result of work done by the Recovery and Planning Task Force, formed in early May by Interim President Lessard and co-chaired by Interim President Lessard and Vice President for Academic Affairs/Provost, Caroline Zeind. Seven Working Groups were formed: Campus Operations, Teaching/Research, Students, Faculty/Staff, Communications, Finance/Legal, and Institutional Research. The Steering Committee, made up of the Chairs and Co-Chairs of the Working Groups, developed likely scenarios for re-opening, charging the Working Groups with delineating issues and action plans.

At all phases of planning, the Task Force and University leadership have been integrally connected to statewide, regional, and local planning efforts. All plans for reopening are in line with CDC and the Massachusetts and New Hampshire state guidance and closely follow the latest guidance from several higher education advisory groups at the state and local level. Please know that we are also mindful of our international students as we work to solidify reopening plans. Our offices will stay in regular communication with and provide updated direction to our international students based on the latest travel guidance and the circumstances in the various countries involved.

Two hundred years of history have given MCPHS a depth of experience navigating crises and acting to keep our students, faculty, and staff safe. We will continue to be nimble and dynamic in our response to challenges, and we are steadfast in seeing our community through this present one. We hope you all have stayed healthy and safe, and we thank you for your patience and efforts during this turbulent time. We remain committed to high quality education and excellent delivery of instruction in all modalities.

For the latest updates on the Fall 2020 reopening plan, please visit our COVID-19 website.


Richard J. Lessard, Interim President
Caroline S. Zeind, Vice President for Academic Affairs/Provost

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