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A Mass. college group just released a four-phase reopening outline. Here’s what each phase entails

UMass Amherst, as pictured on April 30.Blake Nissen for the Boston Globe/file

An advisory group of college presidents set up by Governor Charlie Baker released a four-phase reopening framework Wednesday, outlining what each phase would entail for colleges and universities in Massachusetts.

The plan was presented to the state’s reopening advisory board by the group of 14 public and private college officials, which was led by Worcester Polytechnic Institute President Laurie Leshin.

“The vast majority of institutions are confident that they will communicate their plans for the fall by around July 1, and will need six weeks or less to ramp up for reopening in the fall,” the group said in a letter to the reopening board.


Here’s a look at the newly released guidelines, which were designed to align with the state’s four-step reopening plan:

Phase 1: Start (ongoing)

Under Phase 1, higher education institutions would begin repopulating research laboratories and medical, dental, veterinary, and allied health clinical and educational services.

“Many higher education leaders have high confidence that these activities can resume safely because the people working in these environments have expertise using personal protective equipment (PPE) in controlled environments,” the framework states.

Small numbers of staff would also return to on-site work as needed to support the ramp-up of operations that cannot be done remotely.

“Such repopulation of staff would take place in alignment with the safety protocols put in place by the state,” the framework says.

Phase 2: Cautious (June 8 at the very earliest, according to state guidelines)

Under Phase 2, limited on-campus student programming could resume on a small scale, as long as there are sufficient supplies of tests and PPE, as well as specific plans for social distancing and mask-wearing, according to the framework.

Phase 3: Vigilant (June 29 at the very earliest, according to state guidelines)

Under Phase 3, a careful, larger-scale repopulation of campuses could begin, possibly in conjunction with the start of the new academic year.


“However, given that students will be gathering in classrooms, residence halls, dining halls, and other campus locations, this phase moving forward is dependent upon continued progress on health metrics in Massachusetts, and would only happen if tests and PPE are available in sufficient supplies to meet safety protocols,” the framework states.

Planning for this phase must include campus-specific protocols for symptom monitoring, social distancing, the use of masks, testing, contact tracing, isolation, and quarantine spacing, according to the framework.

Phase 4: New Normal

Ultimately, normal operations would resume after a vaccine is developed or herd immunity is achieved, according to the plan.

Read the full materials below:

Deirdre Fernandes of the Globe staff contributed to this report.

Jaclyn Reiss can be reached at jaclyn.reiss@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter: @JaclynReiss