University of Massachusetts Amherst students will be be taking most of their courses remotely this fall but will have the option to live on its campuses in Amherst and Newton under exacting public health restrictions.
Students may elect to live on the Mount Ida Campus in Newton, regardless of whether they have a course on the campus or are conducting an internship, which typically would be requirements for residence.
However, as part of the university’s Fall 2020 Reopening Plan, no students are required to return to either campus.
“The Mount Ida Campus provides an option for those students who are seeking a residential option for the fall but are not comfortable joining the more populous campus in Amherst,” Mount Ida Campus Managing Director Jeff Cournoyer said. “They will join existing Mount Ida Campus cohorts, including Veterinary Technology students, and have the opportunity to build a living-learning community in a safe and socially distanced environment.”
All health and safety protocols on the main campus in Amherst will be in effect in Newton, but the total residential population will be limited by available housing. All courses beyond essential face-to-face courses for on-site programs, such as the Veterinary Technology program, will be offered remotely.
For students who choose to reside in on-campus housing or expect to spend any time on the Amherst or Newton campuses, standards will be exacting. Students must agree not only to the standard Code of Student Conduct, but also to a set of protocols outlined in The UMass Agreement, a commitment that they will be required to sign.
Protocols for students include strict physical distancing, wearing face coverings outside personal living spaces, limiting social contacts to a minimal number of people per day, the prohibition of guests in residence halls, subjecting themselves to virus testing on demand, daily self-monitoring and reporting, assisting with contact tracing, and limiting travel away from the immediate campus area for work and/or emergencies only.
“Students who choose to attend UMass Amherst do so not only for the quality of the faculty and the academic programs, but also for the immersive experience, which offers opportunities for enrichment that can be undertaken with a diverse group of peers. As best we can – and there are severe limitations in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic – we will strive to sustain the community connections that represent UMass at its best,” Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy said.
The plan makes clear that there are inherent risks to joining a residential campus environment this fall, and it provides students the opportunity to consult with their families and decide what is best for them. Subbaswamy emphasized that “it is important to understand that life on campus will not be anything resembling normal college life.”
The university is developing a comprehensive surveillance, testing, isolation and contact tracing program that students must comply with both on- and off-campus. All students, faculty and staff will be asked to self-monitor on a daily basis for COVID-19 symptoms before coming to campus. All students returning to campus will be tested prior to arrival. During the fall semester, any student experiencing even the slightest symptoms will be tested by University Health Services.
The complete reopening plan, including a detailed set of frequently asked questions, can be found at www.umass.edu/reopening.