COVID-19 Health & Safety

Ensuring the health, wellness, and safety of our community is our first priority. In preparation for this academic year, NEC has engaged in a deliberative process of crafting a plan that matches our unwavering commitment to health and safety with a student experience of uncompromising quality, depth, and impact. We have developed this plan in consultation with numerous public health officials, agencies, and experts, and in collaboration with partner organizations and other institutions spanning the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and beyond.

The Conservatory has implemented a wide range of initiatives to provide a healthy living and learning environment for the year, and we will all need to do our part to care for each other, to support those who need help, and to ensure we comply with safe distancing, face covering, daily screening, and other health-related policies.

Health and counseling services 

The Health and Counseling Center is NEC’s primary resource for health and wellness resources, and the Center will be open for the Spring semester. The Center provides a range of on-site health and mental health services, and is staffed by licensed healthcare and mental health professionals, including Nurse Practitioners and Psychotherapists. The Center’s services are overseen by a board-certified internist (medical director) and psychiatrist.

Testing and screening

Members of our community who come to campus are required to participate in this program. Additionally, all members of the community coming to campus must complete a daily symptom check and show a "cleared" entry pass to public safety staff upon entry. Details can be found on the NEC COVID-19 Testing Program web page.

Face mask/covering policy

To further ensure the health of our community, the use of face masks/coverings are required in all NEC buildings and on all NEC property. Bandanas and neck gaiters are not considered acceptable face coverings. Recently, the CDC issued new guidance related to face mask effectiveness for both for the prevention of transmission of COVID by the mask wearer, and for the protection of the wearer offered by various mask types. Such recommendations include the use of double-masking when using specific mask types, and highlight the importance of achieving a proper fit. Learn more on the CDC website.

Contact tracing and isolation

NEC has developed a system for contact tracing and notification in the event a member of our community is presumed to be exposed to, or tests positive for, the coronavirus. Working in partnership with the Boston Public Health Commission and Massachusetts Department of Public Health, the Health and Counseling Center assists with the identification of anyone who may have had contact with the affected person, and assist with the notification of those contacts. Additional testing and proactive isolation or quarantine of affected individuals will be advised by the Health and Counseling Center if needed.

Safe distancing

NEC has conducted a comprehensive assessment of all studio, rehearsal, performance, and teaching spaces on our campus, and we have consulted with numerous public health officials and other institutions in designing and implementing safety protocols for each of these spaces. Maintaining safe distancing is an important component of these protocols, and we have assessed each space to ensure that the scheduling and assignment of spaces allows for safe distancing in all use cases. In support of safe distancing, we have implemented the following measures:

  • Posted maximum capacities, based on the configuration and dimensions of the room.
  • Safe distancing specifications for each type of activity have been defined. For example, some instruments require larger distances between players than others. 
  • Elevators operate normally, but with reduced capacity to ensure safe distancing.

Common areas

Common areas, including waiting areas, building lobbies, and lounges have been reconfigured to ensure safe distancing. Modifications to furniture and arrangement of spaces have been made.

Building traffic patterns

To maximize safe distancing, some building entrances are modified with entry- or exit-only traffic flow. Accessible entrances and exits can be used normally, as necessary.

Sanitization stations

The Conservatory has installed dozens of additional sanitizing stations at key locations across the campus, in all buildings, and on all floors. 

Installation of transparent shields

Transparent barriers made of glass or plexiglass are installed and available at key interaction points as an added safety measure. They are also used in performance spaces.

Enhanced cleaning and sanitization

We have developed enhanced cleaning and sanitization procedures based upon CDC and public health guidance. This includes the more frequent cleaning of spaces and surfaces using cleaning agents effective against COVID, the use of electrostatic fogging, replacement of air dryers in restrooms with paper towel dispensers, and more.  Ultraviolet light air purification systems that have been demonstrated to remove viruses and bacteria have been installed in classrooms and select key locations on campus. Other steps include the use of enhanced filters in air handling systems.