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

The UMass Amherst campus.
Mark Bonica
Creative Commons / flickr.com/photos/23119666@N03
The UMass Amherst campus.

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. 

Adam joined NEPM as a freelance reporter and fill-in operations assistant during the summer of 2011. For more than 15 years, Adam has had a number stops throughout his broadcast career, including as a news reporter and anchor, sports host and play-by-play announcer as well as a producer and technician.
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