The Public Health Promotion Center continues to closely monitor COVID-19 test results, and university officials are encouraged by the recent moderation in positive cases. If this moderation continues, the university may be able to resume face-to-face instruction, possibly next week. A decision will be forthcoming in the next few days.
UMass Amherst is currently conducting business in a High-Risk operational posture. In preparation for a potential return to in-person classes, and a possible easing of other current restrictions, students have been advised that it is imperative that their twice weekly testing routine is current. They will need to demonstrate testing compliance to participate in the following:
- Face-to-face academic instruction
- In-person programming and activities
- Eat-in dining at dining commons
The comprehensive set of health and safety measures for classroom instruction remains in place. These protocols are essential to the safe conduct of in-person instruction, and to date there has been no evidence that transmission has occurred during face-to-face classes when public health protocols are followed. Faculty may wish to review the classroom safety requirements as well as the video recording of a panel discussion about the spring 2021 protocols in place to protect faculty and students in classrooms.
Stopping the Spread
In a message to students earlier this week, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs and Campus Life Brandi Hephner LaBanc noted, “Contact tracing from our recent surge indicates that small social gatherings (usually between three to seven individuals) continue to occur in residence halls and off campus. Remember that asymptomatic individuals can spread the virus to others even before they test positive. Following mask and distancing guidance, in addition to compliance with testing protocols, is the best way to help keep you, your social bubble, and the larger UMass community safe. When we are able to reduce restrictions, limiting your contact to a committed, regular social bubble will be your best strategy for socializing responsibly.”
She noted that while recent efforts have moderated spread of the virus, all restrictions associated with the High-Risk operating posture remain in place. Violations of restrictions will continue to be investigated by the Student Conduct and Community Standards office. To date, nearly 70 cases remain under review with resolutions expected in the coming weeks. Outcomes already delivered for violations of COVID safety protocols include suspension and removal from campus housing.