The Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts will send students home and shift to remote learning after a surge in COVID-19 cases among resident students.

The college announced Thursday that it would move classes online starting Monday and close dorms for the semester April 11.

The Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts is converting all of its classes to remote learning starting Monday, April 5, and closing its residence halls effective Sunday, April 11.

President James Birge announced the decision to the campus community on Thursday morning, citing a national increase in COVID-19 cases that "has been mirrored across the state and in our local community."

Birge specifically mentioned the outbreak on the MCLA campus that prompted a stay-in-place order for residents in its Flagg Townhouses residence halls.

Since March 22, MCLA has identified 28 students who have tested positive for COVID-19, for a 3.6 percent positivity rate among its student population.

"The impact in our residence areas is acute," Birge wrote. "6.1 percent of our resident students are now COVID-19 positive, and 18 percent are in,  isolation or quarantine protocols. We have identified 28 positive student COVID-19 cases through our Broad Institute testing program on campus, resulting in a 3.6% positivity rate for our resident students (2.8% positivity rate overall) over this time."

Birge emphasized that there is no evidence that classroom instruction caused the cluster.

Because transmission is not due to classroom instruction, in-person classes scheduled for this and Friday will continue to be taught in their regular classrooms. Classes will pivot for all students on Monday, April 5 to a remote/distance learning format and MCLA will deliver all academic courses via remote instruction for the remainder of the Spring 2021 semester.

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