Dear Campus Community:
As efforts across the state, the nation, and the world to contain the coronavirus COVID-19 continue to intensify, today I am announcing that UMass Amherst will suspend all in-person classes, including laboratory, studio, capstone, and graduate courses, until the end of the semester. This expansion of our previously announced transition to remote learning means that all classes, without exception, will be transitioned to remote learning.
As a result of this move, effective Monday, March 16 only weather-designated essential personnel should report to campus in accordance with their regular work schedule. All other employees will begin working remotely until further notice. Next week, supervisors will be in contact with all employees to determine work capabilities and assignments. The designation of onsite employees will be modified as we adapt to this challenging situation. Information regarding research laboratories will be forthcoming.
Residential students who have been granted permission to remain on campus over spring break may still do so but will need to depart from campus by March 21. All other students should remain away from campus until further notice. We recognize there will be some students who are dependent on campus living and dining. These situations will be accommodated. Student Affairs and Campus Life will provide more information next week, including details on procedures for how students can request on-going accommodations and how students may return to campus at a later date to retrieve their belongings.
These measures apply in Amherst and on our Mount Ida Campus in Newton and at the UMass Center in Springfield.
With no confirmed cases of COVID-19 on campus or in the surrounding community, our decision to transition to remote learning is not motivated by any evidence that the campus is inherently unsafe at this point. We have made this difficult decision in an effort to significantly reduce the population density of the campus as a preventive measure to enable social distancing, a technique recommended by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health to mitigate the potential spread of the virus. The steps we have taken are intended to reduce the risk of infection for the students who are returning home, as well as for the essential employees and the small number of students who remain on campus.
I understand how unsettling the events of the past week have been and that this transition is a massive disruption. I also realize that there are many questions and details of importance to individual members and groups of our community for which we don’t yet have answers. We will try to address these as quickly as we can get guidance from regulatory bodies which have purview over them.
The patience, resourcefulness, and dedication exhibited by our community members during this difficult time is nothing short of inspiring. We are a resilient and caring community. And while we are being challenged today, we will emerge stronger tomorrow.
Chancellor Kumble R. Subbaswamy