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Testing, Travel, Masks: Updates For Week 10

Mon, 2021-04-05 15:43
Testing, Travel, Masks: Updates For Week 10 nsossen Mon, 04/05/2021 - 15:43

Dear Residents,

Our 7-day COVID-19 positivity rate for campus is currently 0.26%, and UMass Amherst remains in ‘guarded’ operational posture. As we begin week 10 of the semester, let’s all remain vigilant so that we can enjoy spring with fewer restrictions and more opportunities for in-person connections.

  • Stay Up-to-date on Testing!
    Compliance with required twice-weekly testing is always important, but especially so if you’ve been traveling or socializing with people outside of your bubble. If you visited with friends or family last week or over the weekend, follow state travel guidance and limit your contacts until you receive both of your test results for this week.
  • Keep Your Mask Up!
    Wearing a mask continues to be one of the best ways of stopping the virus from spreading. Mask-wearing is most effective when everybody wears one. Remember to wear your mask whenever you are out of your residence hall room, and remind your friends to wear theirs.
  • Remain Guarded!
    Things are trending in the right direction at UMass, but we need to stay alert. Guest restrictions remain in place for campus, gatherings in residence hall rooms are limited to the number of assigned occupants plus 1, and residence hall common areas have posted occupancy limits. Not sure how to socialize safely under our current operational posture? Check out What Your Bubble Can Do!

With your help, we can finish the semester strong. Thank you for all you are doing to keep yourself and the community safer. 

Thank you,

Jean Ahlstrand MacKimmie
Director, Residence Education

 

Schedule a testUse the campus Health Hub to schedule your required twice-weekly COVID tests

Subscribe to COVID-related updatesGet weekly summaries of new COVID health and safety information through the MyUMass app

Keep your bubble safefind out more about forming a social bubble 

Libraries Limited Reopening

Mon, 2021-04-05 11:48
Libraries Limited Reopening nsossen Mon, 04/05/2021 - 11:48

Today, the Libraries are once again opening our doors to students on a limited basis. This is a reminder that:

COVID-19 Update: Encouraging Trends Continue

Thu, 2021-04-01 12:24
COVID-19 Update: Encouraging Trends Continue nsossen Thu, 04/01/2021 - 12:24

Dear Campus Community, 

The Public Health Promotion Center is closely monitoring COVID-19 test results, and trends continue to be extremely encouraging. 

Last week the campus lowered the operational posture from Elevated Risk to Guarded Risk, and the campus community has continued to remain vigilant by following public health protocols.  The positivity rate for last week (March 22-28) was 0.22%. Currently, the state’s seven-day positivity rate is 2.53%. We want to thank everyone for their continued support in protecting the public health of our community.

The positivity rate in the state has been increasing over the last couple of weeks, so it is important when on or off campus to remain vigilant by following vital public health protocols including social distancing, mask-wearing and socializing within your bubble. Limiting unnecessary travel and keeping your social circle small really does make a difference. 

For ongoing updates and details on the university’s COVID-19 response, including FAQs on operational postures, please visit www.umass.edu/spring.


Sincerely,

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

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

Graduate School Commencement Plan

Thu, 2021-03-25 14:11
Graduate School Commencement Plan nsossen Thu, 03/25/2021 - 14:11

Dear UMass Community,

The Graduate School is pleased to share with you plans for the Graduate Commencement ceremonies this coming May. While we cannot do everything we would have liked, this year’s ceremony is aimed at celebrating graduate students who have completed this important and long-awaited milestone in their careers and still preserve public health and safety. Here is what we are planning.

An outdoor in-person ceremony will be held in McGuirk Alumni Stadium on Thursday, May 13, at 4 p.m.

The ceremony is open to graduate students earning degrees this academic year (September, February and May). To abide by public health guidelines set by the Governor’s office, attendance is limited to graduating masters and doctoral students only. Attendees must follow public health protocols including mask-wearing and social distancing. No guests will be permitted.

We will have addresses by Chancellor Subbaswamy, myself and two outstanding student speakers, and a photo tribute. And, of course, we will officially confer the degrees. To protect everyone’s health, we will not be calling doctoral graduates onto the platform to shake their hand and bestow their hood as we normally do.

Although this is very different from our usual ceremonies, we look forward to this occasion to come together and celebrate the achievements of our graduate students.

Additional details about registration, including specific COVID-19 testing requirements for attendees to gain access to the ceremony will be posted on our website.

I look forward to celebrating with you!

Jacqueline Urla
Dean of the Graduate School

COVID-19 Update: Encouraging Trends Continue, Operational Posture Changed to Guarded Risk

Wed, 2021-03-24 15:56
COVID-19 Update: Encouraging Trends Continue, Operational Posture Changed to Guarded Risk nsossen Wed, 03/24/2021 - 15:56

Dear Campus Community,


The Public Health Promotion Center is closely monitoring COVID-19 test results and recent trends have been consistently encouraging.

The positivity rate for last week (March 15-21) is 0.26%. This compares with the first week in February when the campus encountered a surge of cases and the positivity rate rose to 2.45%. Every week since then, we have seen a decrease in the positivity rate. Given this consistent trend, UMass Amherst is lowering its operational posture from Elevated Risk to Guarded Risk, effective today.

To sustain this operating posture, our entire community must remain vigilant by following vital public health protocols including social distancing, mask wearing and socializing within your bubble. Limiting unnecessary travel and keeping your social circle small really do make a difference. 

We thank everyone for their continued support in protecting the public health of our community.

For ongoing updates and details on the university’s COVID-19 response, including FAQs on operational postures, please visit www.umass.edu/spring.

Sincerely,

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

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

Details on the Current Operational Posture for On-Campus Students

Wed, 2021-03-24 15:21
Details on the Current Operational Posture for On-Campus Students nsossen Wed, 03/24/2021 - 15:21

Dear On Campus Student,

UMass Amherst has lowered the campus operational posture from Elevated Risk to Guarded Risk effective today. The steady decrease in the COVID positivity rate on campus is certainly encouraging, but we must remain vigilant. This message provides more details about what this change in posture means for your life in the residence halls.  

  • Residential students may now host another student from their same residence hall in their room. 
    The maximum number of individuals allowed in any residence hall room at a time is the number of assigned individuals plus one; maximum number in a suite or apartment common area is the number assigned to the suite/apartment.
     
  • There is no change in the guest policy. 
    Guests are not allowed in the residence halls; a guest is defined as someone who is not a resident of the residence hall.
  • Residence Hall Common Areas will be opened at limited capacity in most residence halls. 
    Capacity limits are posted in every common area including lounges and rec rooms; capacity of spaces range from 1 to 5 people permitted in a space. Students are expected to wear face coverings in residence hall common spaces at all times and these areas may not be used for dining. If COVID positivity rates in a specific hall are higher than the campus average, common areas may remain closed.  Residence hall staff will be working on re-opening and unlocking these spaces over the next couple of days. Hallways and lobbies are not gathering spaces and gatherings in these areas is not allowed. 

It is critical that we all work together to maintain this positive trend. Use these reminders to socialize safely, and help keep this encouraging trend headed in the right direction! 

  • When you do socialize, do so in your small social bubble, spend time outside, eat together at the dining hall, or participate in university-sponsored events and programs. 
  • Wear your face covering and maintain at least six feet of physical distance from others at all times outside of your own room (except when using the bathroom to shower, brush teeth or wash your face)
  • Remove yourself from any situation in which COVID health and safety guidelines are not being followed
  • Maintain compliance with the twice per week COVID-19 testing schedule or guidelines provided to you by the UMass Public Health Promotion Center related to testing if you have previously tested positive. 
     

Thank you for your efforts in keeping our community safer.

 

Sincerely,

Jean Ahlstrand MacKimmie
Director, Residence Education

Fall Planning Group Developing Recommendations for Next Academic Year

Tue, 2021-03-23 17:15
Fall Planning Group Developing Recommendations for Next Academic Year nsossen Tue, 03/23/2021 - 17:15

To the Campus Community:

I am pleased to announce the formation of a Fall Planning Group with representation from across the UMass Amherst campus charged with developing detailed operational recommendations for the fall semester.

We are working toward more normal campus operations for the next academic year, which would include face-to-face instruction, full residence halls, and a complement of student events and activities. In other words, come fall, we could see campus life as close to pre-COVID times as possible.

The Fall Planning Group is co-chaired by Carol Barr, Senior Vice Provost for Academic Affairs and Dean of Undergraduate Studies, and Tilman Wolf, Senior Vice Provost for Academic Affairs. The group expects to provide me with its recommendations in April.

The full group includes:

  • Evelyn Ashley, Dean of Students
  • Nancy Buffone, Associate Vice Chancellor for University Relations
  • Rolanda Burney, Chief of Staff, Chancellor’s Office
  • Jeff Cournoyer, Managing Director of the Mount Ida Campus
  • Elsa Cousins, Graduate Student Senate
  • Garett DiStefano, Director of Residential and Retail Dining Services
  • Janet Fink, Associate Dean of Undergraduate Programs, Isenberg School of Management
  • Julia Fox, Student Government Association
  • Steve Goodwin, Deputy Chancellor
  • Lisa Green, Distinguished Professor of Linguistics, Chair of Faculty Senate Rules Committee
  • Jeff Hescock, Executive Director of Environmental Health and Safety
  • Kevin Kerwood, Senior Director and Deputy Chief Human Resources Officer
  • Adam Lechowicz, Student Government Association
  • Sara Littlecrow Russell, Associate Vice Chancellor for Shared Services, Student Affairs and Campus Life
  • Mike Malone, Vice Chancellor for Research and Engagement
  • Tricia Serio, Dean, College of Natural Sciences
  • Jeff Smith, Senior Associate Athletic Director for Internal Operations
  • Patrick Sullivan, Registrar
  • Kalpen Trivedi, Associate Provost for International Programs
  • Ruth Yanka, Executive Director, Administration and Finance Operations

I am grateful to the members of the working group for their willingness to serve and am confident that, with their expertise, we will develop an operational plan for the fall that returns the campus to near-normal operations, while ensuring the health and well-being of every member of our community.

 

Sincerely,

Chancellor Kumble R. Subbaswamy

Vigilance, Compliance Result in Steady Decrease in Positive COVID Cases

Fri, 2021-03-19 13:59
Vigilance, Compliance Result in Steady Decrease in Positive COVID Cases nmiller Fri, 03/19/2021 - 13:59

Dear Campus Community, 

The Public Health Promotion Center is closely monitoring COVID-19 test results. The latest data show 33 cases were confirmed on Monday through Wednesday this week, compared to 59 cases last Monday through Wednesday. This corresponds to a nearly 2-times lower positivity rate compared to last week, and a 3.5-times lower rate compared to two weeks ago. The university’s cumulative seven-day positivity rate is 0.36%, the lowest it has been since the start of the spring semester. The state’s seven-day positivity rate is currently 1.93%.

The continued steady decrease in the number of positive cases is a testament to individuals following the public health protocols. This has allowed additional openings on campus including the Recreation Center this week. Everyone must continue to remain vigilant with social distancing, mask wearing and socializing within your bubble. The continued decrease in cases will provide us the opportunity for some additional public health restrictions to be lifted.

As part of their educational outreach, Student Affairs and Campus Life is now featuring public health advice from Laura Balzer, assistant professor of biostatistics and director of the UMass Amherst COVID-19 dashboard. She is providing twice-weekly video updates on trends emerging in our community. You can subscribe to her Youtube Channel, or opt-in to receive notification when new updates go live in the MyUMass app (click the person icon in the top right and opt into Public Health Updates in the Message Center).

As encouraging as the current trends are these past two weeks, we want to remind everyone that we need to continue to follow all public health guidelines so we do not lose the hard-fought ground we’ve collectively made. Please stay masked, distant and get outside as spring arrives.

Sincerely,

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

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

Commencement Plans for the Class of 2021 and the Class of 2020

Fri, 2021-03-19 13:53
Commencement Plans for the Class of 2021 and the Class of 2020 nmiller Fri, 03/19/2021 - 13:53

Dear UMass Community,

I am pleased to share today details of our upcoming 2021 Undergraduate Commencement in May as well as the plans we are developing to celebrate the Class of 2020 this fall. These will be in-person gatherings, although by necessity they will require much different arrangements as we protect the safety of our students and the community amid the pandemic.

Undergraduate Commencement will be held Friday, May 14, and will take the form of four smaller and shorter ceremonies in McGuirk Alumni Stadium. To maintain compliance with public health guidelines, the ceremonies will be limited to graduates only, with no guests allowed. Graduates must follow public health protocols including social distancing and mask wearing. Each ceremony will be live-streamed for those unable to attend or who wish to celebrate from a distance. The Commencement Office will follow up with additional details in the coming weeks, including specific COVID-19 testing requirements for graduates to gain access to their ceremony.

While these ceremonies are certainly not traditional Commencement events, they do offer the opportunity for our students to gather and celebrate their achievements. Our Student Advisory Group for Commencement emphasized the importance of having an in-person event, and we are pleased to make that happen under what we all know are challenging conditions.

Meanwhile, we have not forgotten about our Class of 2020. We are now developing plans to welcome them back to campus during Homecoming in November 2021. Your long-awaited commencement ceremony will be held!

Careful attention needs to be paid to the many details still to be worked out for both the Class of 2020 and 2021 as we move forward. Updates will be communicated to you and can be found on our Commencement website.

I very much look forward to celebrating with you. Go UMass!

Chancellor Kumble R. Subbaswamy

Academic Calendar Changes for 2021-2022 Academic Year and New Add/Drop Policy

Wed, 2021-03-17 16:22
Academic Calendar Changes for 2021-2022 Academic Year and New Add/Drop Policy nsossen Wed, 03/17/2021 - 16:22

 Dear Students,

The Faculty Senate announced changes last week to the academic calendar for the 2021-2022 academic year.  Some of the features of that calendar include:

  • September 1 start date for the Fall 2021 semester and a January 25 start date in Spring 2022.
  • An expanded five-week winter intersession

In addition, the Faculty Senate approved an adjustment to the length of the add/drop period. Starting in Fall 2021, matriculated undergraduate and non-degree students in the fall and spring semesters will have 7 calendar days at the start of the semester to add classes and drop classes with no record.  This is a change from the previous policy allowing 14 days for Add/Drop for students. The change was recommended by the Academic Matters Council and approved by the Faculty Senate based on data showing that undergraduate students did not perform as well academically when they added a class during the second week of Add/Drop.  This change has been reflected in the 2021-2022 calendar and will be included in future fall and spring semester calendars.  

Please review the complete academic calendar for full details.

Thank you,

Patrick Sullivan

University Registrar

UMass President Marty Meehan Recommends Second Straight Tuition Freeze

Tue, 2021-03-16 14:30
UMass President Marty Meehan Recommends Second Straight Tuition Freeze nmiller Tue, 03/16/2021 - 14:30

University of Massachusetts President Marty Meehan announced that he would recommend that the university’s Board of Trustees freeze tuition for in-state undergraduates for the academic year beginning in September. If approved by the UMass Board, this would be the second straight year of a tuition freeze at the Commonwealth’s 75,000-student national public research university system.

President Meehan made the tuition freeze announcement in his State of the University address on the one-year anniversary of UMass transitioning to online learning and work in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The message was delivered to university students, 18,000 non-student employees, half a million-plus alumni, and other stakeholders via video on social media, the university’s website and email. The message, entitled “Answering the Call,” also highlighted the university’s response to the pandemic and its role in supporting the post-pandemic economic recovery of Massachusetts.

“To lessen the financial burden on our students and their families, many of whom have suffered from job losses, business closures and other impacts of the COVID-19 crisis, I intend to recommend to the UMass Board of Trustees that we freeze tuition for in-state undergraduate students for the second consecutive year,” he said. “This is made possible by the support of the federal legislative delegation, which recently passed the American Rescue Plan and our partners in both the state legislature and Governor Baker’s administration.”

UMass Board of Trustees Chairman Robert J. Manning said, “President Meehan’s recommendation reflects his recognition that our students and their families have been dealing with significant financial hardship throughout this pandemic. The Board shares this concern, and also knows that the skilled management of the university by President Meehan and our five chancellors makes this freeze possible.”

The average pre-financial aid in-state undergraduate tuition at UMass was $14,722 for academic years 2019-20 and 2020-21. UMass has the fifth-lowest tuition among the six New England public universities: University of Vermont ($19,062), University of New Hampshire ($18,938), University of Connecticut ($17,834), University of Rhode Island ($15,004), and the University of Maine ($11,712) this academic year.

UMass awarded $971 million in federal, state, institutional and other financial aid in FY20. Since FY15, institutional aid – funds set aside by the university to decrease actual student costs – has increased 49 percent to $351 million per year.

Delivering his remarks from a research laboratory at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, President Meehan began by acknowledging the pandemic’s impact and emphasizing how the university’s comprehensive response to COVID-19 “exemplifies what the university means to Massachusetts.”

“Never before has our mission been so perfectly crystallized in one momentous challenge,” he said. “In the darkest hours for Massachusetts, UMass was prepared to answer the call, and we did.”

Meehan noted examples of UMass campus initiatives directed at addressing the COVID-19 pandemic, including:

President Meehan also described how the university made its facilities available to the state and its healthcare providers, including field hospitals at UMass Lowell and UMass Dartmouth, and one of the northeast’s largest COVID-19 testing and vaccination sites at UMass Amherst.

After outlining the numerous contributions UMass campuses made in the fight against COVID-19, Meehan said the university is working toward “near normal operations” in the fall with most students returning to in-person classes, employees returning to work and “all participating fully in the local economies of our host communities.”

Meehan closed by acknowledging the “incredible dedication and commitment of our students, faculty and staff. UMass has not only survived this crisis, it is ready to emerge even stronger than before,” he said. “The University of Massachusetts has answered the call.”

For the transcript and video of the address, visit http://umass.info/SOTU-2021.

Most Recent COVID-Testing Data Continues to be Encouraging

Fri, 2021-03-12 10:29
Most Recent COVID-Testing Data Continues to be Encouraging nmiller Fri, 03/12/2021 - 10:29

Dear Campus Community, 

The UMass Amherst campus continues to operate in Elevated Risk Posture this week as it keeps numerous public health restrictions in place. Recent COVID-19 test results are encouraging.

The Public Health Promotion Center is closely monitoring COVID-19 test results. The latest data available shows 59 positive cases occurred Monday through Wednesday, compared to 117 positive cases during the previous Monday through Wednesday. This is a 50 percent decrease compared to last week, bringing the university’s cumulative seven-day positivity rate to 0.51%, the lowest it has been since the start of the spring semester. The state’s seven-day positivity rate is currently 1.72%.

Jeff Hescock, co-director of the PHPC, said, “While we are encouraged by the decrease in the positivity rate and cases, now is not the time to let our guard down. We must remain vigilant and consistently follow important protocols including social distancing, mask wearing and socializing within your bubble. Consistency is the key to lowering our cases. Our goal over time is to lower our operational posture to Guarded, which will allow for some additional restrictions to be lifted.”

We will keep the community informed about new developments. For ongoing updates and details on the university’s COVID-19 response, please visit www.umass.edu/spring.

Sincerely,

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

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

Marking a Year

Thu, 2021-03-11 16:26
Marking a Year nsossen Thu, 03/11/2021 - 16:26

Dear Campus Community,

This month marks a year since we first responded to the COVID-19 global pandemic. Looking back, I don’t think most of us could have anticipated the long and difficult path that lay before us. And yet, we have consistently come together as a community and risen to meet each new challenge.

Chancellor Kumble R. Subbaswamy

Egregious Violations of Policy

Mon, 2021-03-08 09:25
Egregious Violations of Policy nsossen Mon, 03/08/2021 - 09:25

Dear Student,

Sadly, it has happened again—a group of students flagrantly flouted the rules over the weekend.  It has become clear that a relatively small but highly visible subsection of the student population in the Amherst area feels entitled to break the agreed-upon policies and rules so they can party, with no regard for the health and safety of their peers. This selfish and disrespectful attitude contributes to the spread of the virus and puts all of us at risk. To that end, I feel it is important to update you on actions being taken by the university.   

What Occurred: On Saturday afternoon, the Amherst Police Department was called by local residents to disperse a crowd of about 200 students who had gathered in violation of university policy, town expectations, and state public health mandates. The crowd of mostly unmasked individuals was dispersed and citations were issued to the hosts. 

What Happens Next: Those students identified as being involved—hosting or attending—will be issued an interim suspension. If a student also lives on campus, they will face the additional consequence of an interim housing restriction (which requires moving out of the halls) as they pose an immediate health risk to other residents.  

Our Student Conduct & Community Standards staff has received nearly 1000 referrals since the beginning of the year; the vast majority of these are violations of the Interim Pandemic Policy. Due to the risks inherent in unregulated social gatherings and because students have been notified on numerous occasions of the expectations—this behavior is clearly an egregious violation of university policy and swift action is essential. We will continue to adjudicate future cases in this manner, and we will expedite the most blatant violations, such as those that occurred this weekend.  

All students involved will have their appropriate due process, but under no circumstances will they continue as a university student in the interim. The actions of these haughty few are not representative of the larger student population who consistently demonstrate their commitment to public safety. This incident (and others like it) will be dealt with swiftly and effectively so those of you abiding by the rules can enjoy more university privileges. 

I regret this is where we have arrived, but the university must act to support the needs and wants of the greater student body and the larger community. Thank you to those that have diligently followed the rules—I want you to feel seen and appreciated. I hope the good actors of the student body understand this approach as a supportive effort for a successful semester ahead. 
 

Sincerely,

Brandi Hephner LaBanc
Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs and Campus Life

An Important Update on Positive COVID-19 Test Results

Fri, 2021-03-05 13:23
An Important Update on Positive COVID-19 Test Results nmiller Fri, 03/05/2021 - 13:23

Dear Campus Community,

The Public Health Promotion Center is closely monitoring COVID-19 test results. During this week the latest data available shows 117 positive cases occurred Monday through Wednesday. This is a 24 percent increase compared to the previous period last week.

It is vitally important that our community remain vigilant. Everyone must consistently follow public health protocols including social distancing, mask wearing and socializing only within your bubble. Given this week’s uptick in positive cases, we must recommit to take the steps necessary to limit transmission of the virus.

Our data analysis shows that most of the cases result from students participating in small and large gatherings, both on and off campus. If such gatherings continue, the campus risks facing a new surge and the need to reimpose additional restrictions. We all want to avoid such a development.

It’s especially important to:

  • Always mask when not alone or with your small household or bubble 
     
  • Keep your bubble small and socialize outdoors as much as possible
     
  • Maintain room occupancy limits 
     
  • Avoid small and large parties
     
  • Do not host or attend inter-household gatherings
     
  • Do your part and encourage your friends to do the same

The UMass community has shown great resolve and leadership in helping to stop the spread of the virus. We urge you to continue staying in the fight, to keep us going this semester and to help ensure the health and safety of our great UMass community. We are all in this together.

We will keep the community informed about new developments. For ongoing updates and details on the university’s COVID-19 response, please visit www.umass.edu/spring.

Sincerely,

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

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

Spring 2021 Safe Study Spaces

Fri, 2021-03-05 07:49
Spring 2021 Safe Study Spaces nsossen Fri, 03/05/2021 - 07:49

Dear Student,

If you are looking for a place on campus to study or work, please view the Spring 2021 Safe Study Spaces, a comprehensive list of campus spaces available for student use during spring semester. 

Classrooms that are not listed are not available for use outside of scheduled class times. Please note, the Safe Study Spaces are only available to students enrolled in face-to-face courses and students living in residence halls on campus. When using these spaces social distancing and masks are required and you must abide by posted occupancy limits at all times.

Shane Conklin
Associate Vice Chancellor, Facilities & Campus Services

Safe Study Spaces

Engineering Lab II
1st floor lobby

Hasbrouk Laboratory 
Lobby areas on the ground and 1st floors
Room 106

Integrated Sciences Building
Lobby areas on all floors

Integrative Learning Center
Lobby areas on 1st and 2nd floors

John Olver Design Building
1st floor atrium

Marcus Hall
Room 120, 128-128C, and first floor common area

Morrill Science Center I
Rooms N338, N347, N349, N44

Morrill Science Center II
Rooms 218C, 319

Morrill Science Center III
Rooms 203, 317

Morrill Science Center IV
Room 254

South College
Common areas on 2nd, 3rd and 4th floors

Student Union
3rd and 4th floor meeting rooms (identified), lobby and common areas on 2nd, 3rd and 4th floors

Message from the Provost | Student Compliance with Testing Protocol

Mon, 2021-03-01 15:42
Message from the Provost | Student Compliance with Testing Protocol nsossen Mon, 03/01/2021 - 15:42

Dear Colleagues, 

As we begin the second month of the Spring 2021 semester, please know that you have my gratitude and the gratitude of the Chancellor, the Deans, and others for all of the effort that you have put into educating and supporting our students under challenging conditions. Know too that the health and safety of our students, faculty, and staff have been and remain our primary focus.  

Since the announcement of a change in operational posture from High Risk to Elevated Risk on February 19, we have received questions from faculty regarding processes in place to ensure students’ compliance with our testing protocol.  Undergraduate and graduate students need to be tested twice a week if they meet any of the following conditions: living on campus; taking or teaching in-person classes, labs or studios; working in a research lab; or working in an on-campus job.

Undergraduates who do not access campus but live in the immediate area are also required to be tested twice a week, because they are likely to be in contact with on-campus students. Graduate students living in the area but not coming to campus are strongly encouraged, but not required, to be tested. Testing is, of course, free. 

As the February 19 announcement conveyed, the campus is instituting even stricter measures to validate students’ compliance with public health requirements, particularly compliance with twice-weekly testing. Students in compliance with the required testing protocol will have a green check mark in their Health Hub. If instructors would like, they can ask students to show their green check mark before allowing students to participate in an in-person class, lab, or other activity.  For further information, see my February 19 message.

Students out of compliance with the testing protocol will receive multiple notifications and interventions, in this order: (1) an email from the Public Health Promotion Center informing them that they are out of compliance with testing; (2) an email from the Dean of Students Office (DOSO); (3) a personal phone call from the DOSO Student Conduct and Community Standards department, which could lead to the initiation of a violation of the Code of Student Conduct.  Students will also receive an Informational Notification regarding their non-compliance with the testing protocol whenever they log into our Learning Management System (LMS – Moodle or Blackboard).  No student will be removed from a face-to-face class or lab or lose access to the LMS for fully remote courses unless they are found to be in violation of the Code of Student Conduct. Instructors will be informed when this sanction takes place, and they are not required to provide accommodations to the student to make up missed work, as this is considered an unexcused absence.   

Cutting off a student’s access to in-person and remote classes is a serious penalty, but it is in keeping with the seriousness of the offense, an offense that jeopardizes the health and safety of our University community. Under the process described above, non-compliant students will have multiple opportunities to become compliant, or to explain why they are not subject to the policy (e.g., because they have moved out of the area). It is my fervent hope as an educator that it will never be necessary to impose this penalty, but we will do so if necessary. 

 

Sincerely,

John McCarthy

Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs

Dining Update

Fri, 2021-02-26 19:52
Dining Update nsossen Fri, 02/26/2021 - 19:52

Dear Students:

UMass Dining will resume dine-in service beginning Monday, March 1. We are very excited to welcome you back to the DCs and Blue Wall. Your cooperation is required for everyone’s protection . All guests must strictly follow health and safety guidelines. As the number one dining program in the nation, UMass Dining built a reputation on an unwavering commitment to quality; our pledge to Dine with Confidence continues this commitment to safety—we cannot and will not compromise!

 All students are required to comply with campus safety guidelines.

  • Green Checkmark System must be presented before entering
  • Strict adherence to social distancing of six feet or more  
  • Handwashing for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizers before and after your meal
  • Facemasks must be worn when not eating.
  • Dine-in time is limited to 30 minutes maximum

Dine with Confidence, UMass Dining’s commitment to our customers: to serve healthy, sustainable and delicious meals utilizing industry best safety practices. To better serve you we implemented the following:                        

  • Capacity limits set for all locations: students must check the UMass Dining App and Live web cameras to monitor customer location volume and plan visits accordingly
  • Professional directional signage in all locations
  • Zone seating in dining locations: Dining Services will create ‘zones’ and routinely close and sanitize them during operating hours
  • Increased staff to closely monitor all dining activities

We look forward to serving you. Thank you for your support and cooperation.  

UMass Dining

Update from the Public Health Promotion Center

Fri, 2021-02-26 15:13
Update from the Public Health Promotion Center nmiller Fri, 02/26/2021 - 15:13

Dear Campus Community,

The Public Health Promotion Center (PHPC) is closely monitoring COVID-19 test results and contact tracing for the UMass community, and we have seen a steady decrease in the positivity rate over the last four weeks. As a result, our shift last Monday to an Elevated operational posture has provided the campus the opportunity to lift some campus restrictions.

We want to thank the great majority of our students and entire campus community for persevering during this difficult time and following vital public health protocols. Given the continuing decline in active COVID cases and positivity rates, we are announcing that the university will reopen dine-in service beginning Monday, March 1, employing the green checkmark system to ensure campus safety. UMass Dining will communicate details this weekend. This decision is in concert with Governor Charlie Baker’s announcement yesterday that it is appropriate to lessen restrictions on dining and other activities across the state given recent progress in fighting the pandemic.

Close evaluation of our testing data has allowed us to loosen some restrictions. Following the early-February surge and subsequent shift to High-Risk operational posture, the positivity rate for COVID tests has declined. During the first week of spring classes from Feb. 1-6, the campus had a positivity rate of 2.41%, which resulted in the move to Elevated Risk operational posture on Feb. 5 and then to the High-Risk operational posture on Feb. 7. Under High-Risk restrictions, the positivity rate decreased to 1.90% during the first week (Feb. 7-14) and then further decreased to 1.12% during the second week (February 15-21). The current seven-day positivity rate, posted on our testing dashboard on Feb. 26, is 0.76%. The Commonwealth’s current seven-day positivity rate is 1.85%.

Recent cases among students span all academic levels and residential settings. There is no evidence of transmission between students and university staff or faculty. Data from case investigations and contact tracing indicate that transmission is being driven by some students failing to follow social distancing and mask protocols in social and residential settings.

We must all be aware that transmission can occur in large gatherings as well as in small gatherings of less than 10 persons. Students should limit in-person activities to their social bubble, while wearing masks, both inside and outside.

To protect your health and the health of our community, continue wearing a mask, socializing only within your bubble, and testing regularly. These practices are essential to preventing and mitigating further spread of the virus and getting us closer to resuming normal activities. As the weather improves, Student Affairs and Campus Life is planning additional activities, such as this week’s very successful PondFIRE event, that meet social-distancing requirements.

We also want to provide an important reminder about testing requirements and the green checkmark system that is part of the Campus Health Hub. For students getting tested twice weekly, please note that you cannot get tested on two consecutive days. Twice-a-week testing means testing every four days, so we recommend a Monday/Thursday or Tuesday/Friday schedule to remain in compliance. If you are not in compliance, you will see a yellow checkmark indicating you are non-compliant with testing or have not submitted your daily symptom self-check. For details, please refer to a set of FAQs dedicated to the green checkmark system.

Additionally, you should answer a telephone call from the UMass Public Health Team or the Massachusetts Department of Public Health if they reach out. Contact tracers, some of whom are your peers, are judgment-free and will keep your information confidential.

We will continue to closely monitor the situation and will provide regular 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

Trends in Contact Tracing and Expectations for the Weekend

Fri, 2021-02-26 12:04
Trends in Contact Tracing and Expectations for the Weekend nmiller Fri, 02/26/2021 - 12:04

The restrictions in place through our period of High Risk and now Elevated operational posture have been effective in slowing the spread of coronavirus in our community.  I sincerely thank those of you who responsibly abided by the public health guidance.

I write today to encourage you to keep up the great work, and also ask that you think carefully about your social interactions as we enter the weekend.

Contact tracers are continuing to report that small gatherings (between 3-10 individuals) are the primary driver for spreading the virus in our communities, both on campus and in the surrounding area. These small gatherings create an atmosphere of false security, lulling those present into reducing (or abandoning) the precautions we know to be effective: mask wearing, distancing, avoiding eating or drinking from shared containers, spending time outdoors, or in well-ventilated spaces.

I also want to emphasize that parties and large gatherings are prohibited by the university and students hosting such events are flagrantly disregarding the health and safety of themselves and others.

The in-person events of this week’s Wellbeing Wednesday were a demonstration in safe, deliberate, organized face-to-face programming. As we expand the calendar of face-to-face activities and events available from the university, please know that these spaces to meet and socialize with friends on campus have been highly designed and vetted by public health professionals for adherence to safety guidelines.  

As we begin another weekend, please continue to keep your health and the health of your peers a top priority. If we are to continue moving in the right direction—first to Guarded posture, then Monitored—we must remain vigilant against complacency.  

Sincerely,

Brandi Hephner LaBanc
Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs and Campus Life

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