Fall 2021 FAQs

Fall 2021 FAQs

This page answers frequently-asked questions about Fall 2021 at UMass Amherst.

Please see the site's main FAQ section for answers to questions about Spring 2021 and other general issues.

Updated May 7, 2021

COVID-19 VACCINATIONS

Are students required to be vaccinated before returning to campus for Fall 2021?

(Updated April 23, 2021) Yes, we will require all undergraduate and graduate students who wish to live or learn or conduct research on campus or access campus resources to be fully vaccinated prior to the beginning of the fall semester, on the basis of expected additional state, federal and legal guidance and vaccine availability, and subject to religious and disability accommodations pursuant to state and federal law. Evidence to date concerning the present and expected approval status and effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccines supports the university’s position.

Are faculty and staff required to be vaccinated before returning to campus for Fall 2021?

(Updated April 23, 2021) Given our goal to have Fall 2021 be as close to pre-pandemic times as possible, there is an operational imperative that faculty and staff who have been performing their duties remotely transition back to on-campus work. Accordingly, all faculty and staff are strongly encouraged and recommended to get vaccinated prior to the beginning of the fall semester. While recognizing the potential value of working remotely for some future operations, for this fall all employees will be considered on-site, and only hybrid or remote if approved by a unit’s vice chancellor.

Are there exemptions to the immunization requirement?

(Updated April 23, 2021) Students attending may request an exemption from the vaccination requirement, subject to religious and disability accommodations pursuant to state and federal law. Details will be provided in the coming weeks about how to apply for an immunization exemption.

What happens if I can’t easily get access to a vaccine where I live, either in the U.S. or abroad? Can I get vaccinated when I get to UMass?

(Updated April 30, 2021) We strongly encourage all eligible international students to immediately seek out and receive COVID-19 vaccines that are approved in the country where they are currently located. Given current projections related to vaccine supply, it is our expectation that students in the United States should be able to get fully vaccinated prior to their arrival at UMass. Assuming the continued availability of vaccines, students who are unable to access the COVID-19 vaccine prior to arrival, including international students, should be able to get vaccinated at UMass when they arrive in Massachusetts. 

Which vaccines does UMass Amherst currently accept as approved vaccines?

(Updated May 7, 2021) UMass follows Massachusetts Department of Public Health guidelines on approved vaccines in Massachusetts which allow the current World Health Organization (WHO) approved vaccines: AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson, Moderna, Pfizer and Sinopharm.  

If I am fully or partially vaccinated with a vaccine that is not WHO-approved, what will I need to do when I arrive at UMass?

(Added May 6, 2021)Current scientific guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health requires you to restart your vaccination schedule in the U.S. at least 28 days after your last dose of the non-approved vaccine. This is a changing situation, and we will update guidance for international students regularly and provide specific instructions as it becomes available.

If I am fully vaccinated with a WHO-approved vaccine do I need to get vaccinated when I arrive at UMass?

(Added May 6, 2021) NoStudents who are fully vaccinated with a WHO-approved vaccine, either in the U.S. or in another country, do not need any additional vaccination when arriving at UMass.

If I am partially vaccinated with a WHO-approved vaccine, what will I need to do when I arrive at UMass?

(Added May 6, 2021) Upon arrival at UMass, please notify the university, and we will work with you to make arrangements to receive a second dose.

IIf I am fully or partially vaccinated with a vaccine that is not  WHO-approved, what will I need to do when I arrive at UMass?

(Added May 6, 2021)Current scientific guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health requires that you restart your vaccination schedule in the U.S. at least 28 days after your last dose of the non-approved vaccine. Because this is a changing situation, we will update guidance for international students regularly and provide specific instructions as they become available.

I am eligible for a vaccination. Can I get vaccinated at the UMass Public Health Promotion Center?

(Updated May 7, 2021) Yes. The COVID-19 Public Health Promotion Center (PHPC) is open to all members of the UMass Amherst community and to the general public.

Will I be able to register for classes for Fall 2021 without having yet been vaccinated?

(Added April 23, 2021) Yes, you will be able to register for classes prior to vaccination, but you will have to show proof of vaccination (or receive an exemption) before coming to campus to attend classes or live in a residence hall this fall.

Will there be a fully remote/virtual option for students who are enrolled in the fall but are not vaccinated?

(Added April 23, 2021) No, full-time degree-seeking undergraduate students are expected to enroll in university session courses, taking face-to-face courses in Amherst or on the Mount Ida Campus. For additional information, see the Undergraduate Enrollment Options section of the Fall 2021 FAQs.

How do I add my COVID-19 vaccination data to my University Health Services medical record?

If you received your COVID-19 vaccine in Massachusetts, University Health Services has your vaccination data on file, and no further action is required.

If you were vaccinated outside of Massachusetts, follow these below to upload your COVID-19 vaccination data as soon as you receive the first dose, then again after you receive the second dose. Do not wait to complete the series of shots to enter your COVID-19 vaccine information. (New Students: Please wait until you are assigned a UMass email address to follow the steps below.

  1. Login to the UMass Patient Portal
     
  2. Click the "immunization" tab
     
  3. Select "COVID-19 Vaccines"
     
  4. Find your vaccine type, enter the date you received your vaccine and click "Submit"
     
  5. Click the "Uploads" tab
     
  6. Under "Documents Available to be Uploaded," select A – REQUIRED IMMUNIZATIONS FORM
     
  7. Upload a photo of the vaccine card that you were given by the health care provider who administered the immunization.
     

RETURNING TO CAMPUS

Who should plan to return to campus this fall?

All faculty, staff and students should plan to return to campus in-person this fall. The university intends to offer a full college experience, featuring face-to-face instruction, full residence halls, a complement of student events and activities, and active research facilities.

What is the green checkmark?

Every member of the UMass community has a role to play in maintaining a healthy and safe campus. Toward that end, all individuals will be required to comply with any COVID-19 vaccination requirements adopted and COVID-19 testing frequency requirements. To demonstrate compliance with these requirements, the campus will continue to use the green checkmark via the Campus Health Hub.

I’m an international student. Can I return to campus for the fall semester?

All new and continuing international students who are able to travel to the U.S. are strongly urged to attend campus in person. The International Programs Office is monitoring travel restrictions, visa issuance and backlogs, and vaccine requirements across the globe. For international students unable to come to campus to start the semester on Sept. 1, we will pursue technology options in the classrooms for individual student accommodations that may be needed (e.g., Echo360 asynchronous recordings or synchronous laptop/microphone Zoom sessions). We will also explore fully remote options and assist international students with access to courses, but we will not have a fully remote curriculum in place.

I am international student. Will I be required to quarantine when I arrive at UMass for the fall semester?

(Added April 28, 2021) We look forward to welcoming all our international students back to campus in the fall. UMass will follow quarantine requirements as determined by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. This guidance is not yet available. We will provide timely updates. International undergraduate students who have a university housing assignment will be provided assistance and information about quarantining through Residential Life. Specific move-in dates and instructions for your campus residence hall will be provided by Residential Life.

I’m a faculty member/graduate student instructor with health conditions and cannot teach in-person for the fall semester. What should I do?

Faculty and graduate student instructors who have health conditions that do not allow them to teach in person can request accommodations through the accommodation process provided by the Office of Accessible Workplace in the Department of Human Resources (faculty members) or through Disability Services (graduate student instructors).

I’m a staff member with health conditions and cannot work on campus for the fall semester. What should I do?

Staff who cannot work on-site for health reasons should request an ADA accommodation.
 

TEACHING AND LEARNING

Will classes be taught in-person?  

Yes, all classes normally taught in-person will return to that mode of instructional delivery in the fall. The university will continue to monitor public health guidelines with in-person instruction and will continue public health practices (e.g., mask-wearing in classrooms) if recommended./p>

Do I have to attend my in-person classes?

Yes, when courses are offered in-person, students are expected to attend those courses in person. The university’s “University Policy on Class Absence explains what absences need to be accommodated by an instructor. To help instructors meet such accommodations, Echo360 technology (for recording and asynchronous playback by students) and hybrid technology (for synchronous instruction to remote students) are available in numerous classrooms.

What if I have to travel to an off-campus location for a field trip or field work?

Courses that require field trips and field work will take place while following public health guidelines for travel and the location where the field trip/work takes place. Public health guidance will be followed with approval processes put in place in advance if needed.

What is the Academic Calendar for 2021-22?

Fall 2021 classes begin Sept. 1, 2021. Holidays on Labor Day (Sept. 6), Oct. 11, and Veterans Day (Nov. 11) holidays will all be observed, as will Thanksgiving Recess (Nov. 24-28). This schedule allows for a 26-day Winter Session, which provides many advantages to faculty willing to teach during the Winter Session and more course opportunities for students. The other campuses in the Five College Consortium are also planning to start the fall semester on or around Sept. 1, which would assist students who participate in the Five College exchange.

Will academic advising be in-person?

Yes, all academic advising will be in-person, as with normal pre-pandemic operations. We look forward to welcoming our important staff members back to campus to perform these critical student support services.

Will student support services be available?

Yes, all student support services (Learning Resource Center, Registrar’s Office, International Programs Office, Bursar’s Office, Financial Aid, Career Services, etc.) will be available in-person, as with normal pre-pandemic operations. We look forward to welcoming our important staff members back to campus to perform these critical student support services.

What precautions are being taken to make classrooms safe?

Public health protocols for classrooms, labs and studios will be reviewed during the summer.  Public health guidance will be followed in relation to continued use of masks in classrooms, PPE needs in labs and studios, and other public health measures that should continue to be followed at least at the beginning of the fall semester, if not throughout the whole semester.

Classrooms, labs and studios will retain some of the public health measures that were put in place for the COVID-19 pandemic, such as better air filters or separate air filtration units. Classroom scheduling will return to pre-pandemic levels in terms of student density and class density, assuming public health guidelines allow. Custodial service levels will return to pre-pandemic levels.

What if the state reinstates restrictions on in-person classes once the semester has started?

If restrictions are placed on in-person instruction, for example, limited classroom capacity, we plan to use remote and/or hybrid instruction for the duration of such a restriction. Instructors have significant experience with the necessary technologies and pedagogies, and thus such a switch – while highly undesirable – could be implemented.

Will the Mount Ida Campus have in-person instruction and activities?

Instruction and activities at the Mount Ida Campus will follow the Amherst campus guidelines. In-person instruction will take place at the Mount Ida Campus with public health guidelines followed.

Will the Springfield Center have in-person instruction and activities?

Instruction and activities at the Springfield Center will follow the Amherst campus guidelines. In-person instruction will take place at the Springfield Center with public health guidelines followed.

 

UNDERGRADUATE ENROLLMENT OPTIONS

Can I study remotely this fall as a full-time UMass student?

Full-time degree-seeking undergraduate students are expected to enroll in university session courses, taking face-to-face courses in Amherst or on the Mount Ida Campus. If you are interested in enrolling in only online courses, you can withdraw from the university and become a non-degree student through UMass’s University Without Walls. Only a fraction of university session courses are offered online, therefore students cannot opt to take a full course load remotely.

How do I withdraw from UMass for one or more semesters?

If you are a continuing undergraduate student and want to withdraw for the fall 2021 semester, use the End of Term Withdrawal process. The Re-Enrollment deadline for spring 2022 is Oct. 15, 2021.

I am a new student and have submitted my UMass enrollment deposit. Can I defer my admission?

(Added April 23, 2021) UMass Amherst rarely approves requests to defer admission decisions for students who are unable to attend during the term indicated on their offer letter. Undergraduate Admissions will consider a deferment request for students with specific, significant circumstances. For more information, including how to make a request, view the university’s deferral policy.

I am a senior. Can I complete my degree via UWW or another institution?

(Added April 27, 2021) Seniors with at least 87 credits completed can finish their requirements through UWW or at another institution. Academic advisors can assist with planning for Senior Year in Absentia. Prior approval is required.

How do I enroll in courses via University Without Walls (UWW)?

Course enrollment can be done through the UWW website. UWW courses are charged on a per-course basis.

Can I take courses at another institution and return to UMass in Spring 2022?

If you choose to take all your coursework through another university and hope to transfer-in courses for credit, you will need to get course approval for transfer credit and withdraw from UMass for one or more semesters. The re-enrollment deadline for Spring 2022 is Oct. 15, 2021.

Can I get financial aid for UWW courses?

(Updated April 23, 2021) Undergraduate students who take courses through UWW will be considered a non-degree student unless they are accepted into a UWW program. Non-degree students are not eligible for federal aid, but they can apply for private alternative loans and scholarships to help offset their costs. For reference, view this list of private lenders.

I am an international student and because of visa/travel restrictions, I don’t have the choice to return to the UMass Amherst campus this fall. Can I attend remotely?

The International Programs Office is monitoring travel restrictions, visa issuance and backlogs. For international students unable to come to campus to start the semester on Sept. 1 because of visa issues or travel restrictions, we will pursue technology options in classrooms for individual student accommodations (e.g., Echo360 asynchronous recordings or synchronous laptop/microphone Zoom sessions). We will also explore fully remote options as well and assist international students with access to courses as much as possible. However, we will not have a fully remote curriculum in place for the fall.

Are international study options available for Fall 2021?

(Added April 27, 2021) The International Programs Office (IPO) will continue to offer a limited range of safe study-abroad, international internship, and exchange opportunities in Fall 2021. If you have not already been placed in a program, you should contact the Education Abroad office as soon as possible.

 

STUDENT AFFAIRS AND CAMPUS LIFE

Will the New Student Orientation and Transitions Program be in-person?

New Student Orientation and Transitions Program will be offered as follows:

  • New Students Orientation will be remote.
  • Fall New Students Orientation will be in-person.
  • Meet your community meetings for first-year students will run from early June through July 16.
  • There will be some family programming in June and July 6-16.
  • Welcome programming and department and program open house events will start Aug. 28 and run through the following weekend.
  • New Student Convocation is Aug. 31. 

When can I move into my residence hall?

(Updated April 23, 2021) On-campus move-in is Aug. 27-29, 2021. Students will select a move-in reservation in August to determine the specific time of their move-in.

First-year students move in on Friday, Aug. 27.

Sophomores and transfer students move in on Saturday, Aug. 28.

Juniors and seniors move in on Sunday,  Aug. 29.

When do international students and summer international students move into fall housing?

(Updated April 23, 2021) International students attending IPO orientation will move into their fall on-campus assignment on Wednesday, Aug. 25. Students not attending orientation will move in based on their class year.

Will Residential Academic Programs (RAPs) be offered in the fall?

RAP programs affiliated with a specific course and a designated residence hall will be offered for Fall 2021. As the university continues to follow health and safety protocols, RAP courses may be located in classrooms.  

What will life in the residence halls be like?

Residence Education staff plan to provide a close-to-normal residential experience focused on developing strong and inclusive communities, student learning, well-being, student engagement and student support. Residence hall staff will engage with students in floor meetings, roommate agreement processes, bulletin boards and newsletters, and a range of events and programs designed for community engagement and learning. In first-year residential communities, undergraduate peer mentors will provide academic, well-being and transition support through events and open office hours. 

Students will have the opportunity to participate in the Residence Hall Association by joining their residence hall’s House Council. House Councils plan events and initiatives for their residential communities.

Will residence hall staff be available to support students?

Residence hall staff are available and on-call at all times to respond to student concerns and to support student needs.

Will there be any events for students this fall?

Multiple smaller events will be offered to allow flexibility for any public health and safety COVID-19 guidance. Events planned for Opening Week through Sept. 30 include: 

  • BBQ & Fun Games on the Lawn of the Student Union
  • Student Organization Expo & Leadership Week
  • Student Union Open Houses

Will cultural and identity centers be open for the fall semester?

Cultural and identity centers will be open for the fall semester. Open house and welcome events for the centers, as well as other programs and departments, will be held during the first two weeks of September.

Will Disability Support Services be open for the fall semester?

Yes, Disability Support Services will be open for the fall semester.

Will the Dean of Students Office be open for the fall semester?

Yes, the Dean of Students will be open for the fall semester.

Will the Recreation Center be open?

Campus Recreation is open now and will be open for Fall 2021. Campus Recreation is prepared to expand services, hours, and operations in accordance with evolving public health guidance from the university and state officials.

Will the Center for Counseling and Psychological Health (CCPH) be open?

CCPH will continue offering all services this fall, including 24/7 crisis services; same-day first appointments; Let's Talk; groups; workshops and community conversations; psychiatry services; and outreach. CCPH’s psychological assessment program will resume when safety regulations and COVID guidelines allow. The majority of services will continue to be delivered remotely to remain compliant with COVID guidelines and safety regulations. CCPH is determining what criteria may warrant in-person assessment and will offer it accordingly with proper safety precautions in place.

What resources will be available to students living off-campus in the fall?

Off-campus students will have access to university support services and resources. Additionally, the Off-Campus Student Center lounge will reopen as an in-person resource.

Will the Center for Early Education and Care (CEEC) be open for Fall 2021?

The CEEC will open for the fall semester on Monday, Aug. 30, 2021, with enrollment in all classrooms consisting of a blend of children from staff, faculty, and student-parent families.

Current plans for the fall include operating two Toddler and two Preschool classrooms for a total of 45 children. Enrollment capacity is limited by Department of Early Education and Care licensing restrictions, and staff vacancies and voluntary furloughs. CEEC has partially expanded capacity for this fall and is working on staffing solutions to be able to further expand enrollment capacity.

Will a cancellation fee be charged for students who opt out of university housing because of vaccine requirements?

(Updated April 26, 2021) If you are unsure of your decision to be vaccinated for fall semester, do not take rash action to cancel housing or withdraw from the university at this time.  Please note, we expect that many – if not most – colleges and universities will have similar requirements for the fall. Students who willingly choose not to be vaccinated and withdraw from the university may submit a waiver of the housing cancellation fee through the billing appeal process. Please note that if subsequent state, federal or legal guidance or vaccine ability limits our ability to require the vaccine, students who have not been vaccinated may be required to meet additional public health expectations (e.g., asymptomatic testing) to maintain a safe campus community.

RESEARCH AND LIBRARIES

What will research and libraries activities look like for Fall 2021?

With a goal for in-person research and library activities to return as close as possible to pre-COVID-19 activities, schedules, and densities of personnel in facilities, a gradual transition will begin Monday, May 17, 2021. A Research & Libraries Operating Plan (RLOP) and participation in the campus asymptomatic testing program are required along with any relevant guidelines for undergraduate and summer research. These requirements will be modified as the public health situation permits.

What if there are changes in the public health situation during this transition?

During this transition, the Vice Chancellor for Research and Engagement (VCRE) in consultation with the Research & Libraries Working Group will provide updates, including any modified requirements, bi-weekly or more frequently if necessary, and with as much advance notice of changes as possible.

Will some work spaces be more restrictive?

Some UMass facilities, including performance venues, farms or field stations, or individual research groups, may need to adopt more restrictive health and safety measures according to their in-person activities and participants’ risk levels. Following the best practices developed over the last year, those plans should be discussed with all the participants and across spatially proximate lab groups, such as those using the same shared facilities.

CAMPUS OPERATIONS

Will the dining commons and campus retail cafes be open?

Dining commons and retail cafes will be normal dine-in, including china service. Outside seating for grab-and-go will be provided. Food trucks/mobile kitchens will be used in strategic locations around campus as needed. Students can monitor dining commons volume using the UMass Dining App and web cameras.  

What do students need to access dining locations?

Students will be asked to present the campus green checkmark upon entry to dining locations.

Will the UMass Store be open this fall?

The UMass Store will resume normal in-store operations and will continue with online ordering in the fall.

Will Conference Services be hosting events this fall?

Conference Services plans to host events in the fall following recommended public health guidance.

Will Hotel UMass be open this fall?

Hotel UMass will resume normal operations in the fall with up to 100% occupancy.

Will events and performances be held on campus this fall?

Events at the Mullins Center, the Fine Arts Center and other performance venues will return to normal activity following recommended public health protocols and guidelines.  

ATHLETICS

Will fans be allowed to attend UMass Athletic home competitions?

Athletics will adhere to state guidelines to determine if fans can attend home games for fall sports. Minutemen Football will host six games, including Boston College at the Sept. 11 home opener and UConn on Oct. 9. Pre-game activities for fans and students will be assessed and developed over the summer.