Coronavirus Planning

UMass announced that it will shift to online classes for the rest of the Spring 2020 semester because of the threat of the spread of coronavirus. Please visit the UMass Coronavirus Page for comprehensive campus information, and use this page for specific Journalism Department information. Last updated 11:30 a.m. Wednesday, March 25.


What happens when spring break ends on March 23?
Undergraduate classes will resume online and continue in that format through the end of the Spring 2020 semester. Everyone will have the opportunity to complete their classwork and earn course credit for the work they started in the Spring 2020 semester. If you’re expecting to graduate in May 2020, you still can.


How will these remote online classes work? 
The Journalism Department faculty and staff met virtually on March 13 to talk about how to make lectures, assignments and communication work best online. We know you will receive lots of emails, but please pay particular attention when your professors get in touch to explain how their class will work moving forward. Moodle will still serve as the hub for most classes, and many classes will use Zoom, which is free to all UMass students and functions like a fancy version of Skype.


Will the University move to Pass/Fail grading for the Spring 2020 semester?
Yes. Effective immediately, all letter grading only courses now have a Pass/Fail option. Students will be allowed to select Pass/Fail grading for any course through Wednesday, April 29. The current university policies restricting the number of Pass/Fail courses a student can take in a given semester will be suspended for the Spring 2020 term. Click here for more details.


Is the Caje open to return my checked-out equipment?
No. Like most offices on the UMass campus, employees are working remotely. If you have Journalism Department equipment, please contact your professor for instructions on what to do.

What if I don’t have a computer or a good internet connection at home?
Please let your professor know as soon as possible so alternate plans can be made.

Will Fall 2020 course registration still happen?
Yes. Advisors Beth Wallace (last names L-Z) and John Ciampa (last names A-K) will be in touch with information for all majors to schedule online advising meetings. Registration dates have been pushed back, and will now begin on April 8 and 9 for rising seniors, April 15 and 16 for rising juniors, April 22 and 23 for rising sophomores and April 24 for first years (not incoming students).


When can I register for Summer 2020 courses?
Registration for Summer 2020 has been pushed back a week and is now scheduled to start on Monday, March 23.


Are Journalism Department special events canceled?
Yes. The talk with food writer Joanna Pruess on March 24 and the Women in Sports Journalism symposium in early April are both cancelled. Our alumni visits and events in late March are cancelled and will be rescheduled for Fall 2020.


Will the 2020 Commencement be postponed?
Yes. Commencement, which was scheduled for Friday, May 8, and all commencement weekend activities, will be postponed. Alternative plans are in development. Those wishing to share alternative ideas can email them to


When can I remove my belongings from my dorm room?
The first round of move-outs began March 21-22 for the following residence halls: Gorman, Brett, Oak, Sycamore and Prince. Future rounds of move-outs have been suspended until Tuesday, April 7, after a stay-at-home advisory was given by Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker on March 24. A sequenced move-out plan for all remaining resident halls will be reassessed when the advisory is lifted.


Journalism assignments sometimes require that I cover large events or interview people in person. Do I still have to do that?

No. Your professors are aware of the risks of coronavirus and will not require you to do any reporting that would make you uncomfortable about your own health. 


Where can I find more information?

UMass Amherst has a page that aggregates announcements and information about coronavirus. Check the Boston Globe for thorough reporting on the virus's effects in Massachusetts. The Massachusetts Department of Public Health has more information on the illness itself.

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