What is a bubble?
A bubble is a small group (bubbles can be groups of between 2 and 5 students; smaller is safer) of on-campus students who interact as a social unit during the spring 2021 semester. Students who form a bubble agree to follow shared health and safety practices. Your bubble will be your trusted social group while on campus during spring 2021.
What are the benefits of bubbles?
Bubbles can address our needs for connection and social wellbeing during this period when face coverings and social distancing are required for most of our in-person interactions. The use of bubbles can limit the spread of infection on campus and make it easier to identify others who might have been exposed to COVID-19 if a student should test positive for COVID-19. As a member of a bubble, you contribute to the physical and emotional well-being of the other members of the bubble.
Being part of a bubble does not prevent you from attending events or interacting with others as long as doing so is agreed to in your bubble; however, you should follow public health guidance of social distancing and wearing face coverings when interacting with others outside your bubble.
Am I required to form a bubble?
Social bubbles are widely recognized as a useful way to socialize safely during COVID, but forming a bubble is not required. Bubbles are completely optional and student-directed. You get to decide who is in your bubble, what the expectations are for your bubble, and how you'll manage conflict. BubbleUp information and activities are simply resources to help you, should you decide to form a bubble.
Do I need to register my bubble with the university?
No! Bubbles are optional, and while we encourage you to have a formal written agreement with the members of your bubble, the university will not be tracking who is in a bubble.
I live in a double this semester. What does this mean for my bubble plans?
Residents of double-occupancy rooms are encouraged to be members of the same bubble, and add up to three additional bubble mates. If the residents of a double do not wish to form a bubble with any additional students, they can still form a bubble of two and complete a Bubble Agreement, in the interest of facilitating a safe and comfortable living environment.
Can I form a bubble with friends that live in another residence hall on campus?
Yes, you can include a student from another residence hall in your bubble – however doing so does not give your bubble permission to violate any university policies or guidelines. Every member of your bubble must still follow all UMass Amherst residence hall policies, university operational postures, and state/federal guidelines. For example: Under the current operation posture, a bubble member who does not reside in your residence hall will not be permitted to visit you in your residence hall or room. Overall, it may be more manageable and more enjoyable for all of your bubble mates to live in the same residence hall.
Can I be a member of multiple bubbles at the same time?
For public health reasons, students are strongly discouraged from participating in more than one bubble at a time, as interacting with multiple bubbles can increase the spread of the virus within the university community.
I’d like to be in a bubble, but I don’t know any students that I want to “bubble up” with yet. Will there be opportunities to meet other on-campus residents to form a bubble?
RAs and other residence hall staff are ready and available to help you find opportunities for meeting other students who share your interests. RAs will continue hosting virtual programs for residents who would like to form bubbles but have not yet established one. Talk to your RA about these opportunities and others on campus.
Is there a deadline for forming a bubble?
No, there is no deadline to form your bubble. Residents have the flexibility to form a bubble at any time before the Spring 2021 residence hall move-out.
What if I start dating someone who is not a member of my bubble?
If you begin dating a student who is a living in a UMass residence hall but is not in the same bubble as you, you may want to add them to your bubble. Before doing so, we recommend the following guidelines:
Your significant other is not already a member of another bubble,
and all of your bubble mates agree,
and your expanded bubble membership does not exceed five people.
You may also choose to leave your current bubble and form a new two-person bubble with your significant other. Additional information about changing your bubble is available below.
If your significant other resides in a different residence hall from you, neither of you will be permitted to visit in the other’s residence hall, regardless of whether you are in a bubble together or not.
How does traveling and returning to my bubble work?
All members of the UMass community are expected to follow the travel policies outlined on the UMass website and undergraduate residents should pay particular attention to the COVID-19 student policy regarding travel. Bear in mind that when you decide to go off campus you are potentially exposing yourself and your bubble mates to COVID-19. You should discuss off-campus travel before signing your Bubble Agreement, and be sure to notify your bubble mates about your travel plans.
Can I leave my bubble if I decide that I do not want to be a member anymore?
Yes. If you decide that you no longer want to be a member of your bubble, you may discontinue at any time. Before doing so, we recommend discussing with your bubble first, and letting them know the reason for your decision.
Can I leave my bubble and join a different one during the semester?
Changing your membership from one bubble to another bubble can be done safely if you exercise certain precautions. For the wellbeing of both yourself and your new bubble, we encourage you to follow these guidelines after leaving your current bubble and before joining your new bubble:
After your last contact with your current bubble, begin self-quarantine
Get your next scheduled COVID-19 test
If your test is negative, continue to self-quarantine until receiving a second negative test. Upon receipt of a second negative test result, you can safely join your new bubble.
During your self-quarantine period, we encourage you to schedule a Zoom meeting with all members of your new bubble and a SACL staff member. The new bubble group has the choice to either draft a new Bubble Agreement, keep the same Agreement (as determined by the existing members of the bubble you are switching into), or to add amendments to the original Bubble Agreement.