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UMass Tightens COVID-19 Rules Amid A 'Concerning' Rise In Cases

Update: On Sunday, Feb. 7, administrators at UMass Amherst tightened restrictions even further. The new rules go into effect Sunday afternoon and will be in place for a minimum of 14 days and will only be lifted when conditions improve "substantially," according to a statement from the school. Among other new restrictions, classes will transition to be all remote.


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UMass Amherst is announcing new restrictions on students due to a rise in COVID-19 cases.

University officials said 239 cases of the coronavirus were detected at UMass from Monday to Wednesday this week. And they said the test positivity rate continues to grow, currently at 2.9%.

The spring semester started Monday.

As a result, under enhanced restrictions which took effect Friday afternoon, students will not be allowed to gather either on or off campus, and visitors to the university will not be allowed.

Also, meals will be served in a "grab and go" fashion, and the campus recreation center will be limited to virtual activites.

UMass spokesman Ed Blaguszewski said most of the positive cases are among undergraduate students.

"It's really sort of been social and residential contexts that, based on our contact tracing data, is where the concern has emerged," he said.

Blaguszewski also said students not following the new restrictions could be subject to discipline from the university.

One thing that will not be impacted is the limited amount of in-person classes taking place. There's been no indication there's been transmission of the virus during face-to-face sessions.

About 5,400 students were expected to live on campus this spring, with thousands more staying off-campus. UMass said 1,100 students lived on campus during the fall semester.

"We certainly recognized, as we brought more students back this semester, that we needed to monitor the situation closely, and report back out to the community. And that's what we've done," Blaguszewski said.

Updates on the COVID-19 situation at UMass are expected to be made public on a weekly basis going forward.

According to the university's COVID-19 online dashboard, as of Friday morning, 985 students have tested positive since August 6 — 794 of which were living off campus.

This story originally appeared on New England Public Media.

This article was originally published on February 05, 2021.

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