Significant New Campus Restrictions in Place Due to Rise in COVID-19 Cases

Dear Campus Community,

The Public Health Promotion Center has been closely monitoring COVID-19 test results for the UMass community during the first week of classes in the Spring Semester. Given a concerning rise in new positive cases, predominantly among undergraduate students, the operational posture of the campus has been changed to Elevated effective today, 2/5/21, at 3 p.m., instituting new restrictions on many everyday activities.

Recent test results show 239 new positive cases from February 1-3, with a growing positivity rate of 2.9%. Full details can be viewed on our testing results dashboard.

The change from Guarded to Elevated includes these immediate restrictions:

  • No student gatherings of any size permitted on or off campus
     
  • Campus Recreation Center limited to virtual activities
     
  • Dining grab-and-go service only (no in-person dining)
     
  • Building access restricted. Face-to-face instruction and research spaces remain open. No other student gatherings in buildings permitted. Campus Center and Student Union will be open for individual access, but no gatherings allowed.
     
  • Visitors not allowed on campus. The prohibition on visitors to residence halls remains in place.

With public health protocols successfully in place in academic spaces, there is no evidence that transmission has occurred during in-person instruction, and those classes will continue as planned.

There is also no indication at this time of increased transmission rates between students and university staff. On-site and hybrid staff should continue their normal work schedules unless otherwise directed by their supervisor.

Contact tracing data indicates that transmission of the virus is especially prevalent among some undergraduate students not following social distancing and mask protocols in social or residential settings, both on and off campus. Strict adherence to protocols must occur to protect public health, and all undergraduate students (whether living on or off campus in the Amherst area) and graduate students who access campus are required to be tested at the Mullins Center.

It is imperative that every one of us follow proper protocols to help protect the community, and it is only by adhering to these practices that we can limit the spread of the virus and begin to resume more normal activities. We will continue to closely monitor the situation and will provide weekly updates to the campus community.

Sincerely,

Co-Directors of the Public Health Promotion Center (PHPC)

Jeffrey Hescock, Executive Director of Environmental Health and Safety
Ann Becker, Public Health Director