With just a little over two weeks before the start of the fall semester, officials at the University of Massachusetts campus in Amherst reversed an earlier decision made in June and said Thursday night they would no longer repopulate their residence halls with students taking online classes.

According to a story reported on by WWLP/22 News, back in June UMass announced a reopening plan that allowed students to return to campus. Even though most classes would be held remotely, students were invited back under new safety restrictions and precautions for dorm rooms and dining halls.

Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy said at the time, school officials had heard “loud and clear” from students that they wanted to be in and around campus.

But Thursday night, citing worsening conditions around COVID-19 nationally and the risk of having to close campus mid-semester, Subbaswamy sent a message to students and their families informing them the school will not offer housing to students whose courses are entirely remote.

Also included in Subbaswamy's message was that only students who are taking “essential face-to-face classes” will be granted access to dorms and other campus facilities.

Subbaswamy wrote that school officials "strongly urge" students taking remote courses not to return to the Amherst area.

Classes are set to being August 24.

I realize that today’s announcement will cause disruption for many of you and is a major departure from the plan we released in June. Our intention at that time, with our plans to conduct most classes remotely while inviting all students back to campus, was to strike a balance between the immersive residential experience so important to our students’ development and the health and safety of the entire community in the Amherst area. Unfortunately, despite our best efforts and detailed planning, the proliferation of the pandemic has left us with no choice but to pursue this more stringent approach.

Chancellor Subbaswamy

 

The chancellor also said situations involving students who are dependent on campus housing and dining, those in health care fields, and international students with specific visa requirements “will be handled on a case-by-case basis, and in most instances will be accommodated.”

The acceleration of the COVID-19 pandemic within the United States has prompted other Massachusetts schools to rethink their fall plans as well.

For more info on other schools and more on this story visit the website of WWLP/22 News and we thank them for the update.

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