AMHERST, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -- Nearly half of the students who will live on the UMass Amherst campus this semester are now settling in.

More staggered students will be moving in this weekend, but that doesn’t include off-campus students. Amherst is slowly getting back to a new normal, but college students have said it's just not the same.

Downtown Amherst looked deserted on a Thursday before classes on Monday. Understandably, people are concerned about crowd sizes on and off-campus, due to the potential of catching coronavirus.

But restaurants are capitalizing on families coming to dine, while students get adjusted to an unusual school semester.

Coming back to UMass Amherst to hit the books won’t be the same.

“I mean, it's very different from when I was here before the pandemic started. It honestly makes me wonder if this town is even going to survive with UMass not coming back," said UMass Amherst sophomore Jayden Solomon.

Solomon said Amherst is a ghost town. She’s comparing it to when she had to leave school back in March when the campus first shutdown. This semester, she’s living off-campus because her classes are remote, but potential crowd sizes around town do concern her.

"My plan is just to make a bubble with my immediate friends here, and keep contact with people to a minimum," Solomon explained.

Solomon’s father is also making sure his daughter is taking precautions.

“Once she goes outside of her bubble, mask up. Around the house, people come in, keep the distance," said parent Gary Solomon.

The spokesperson for UMass Amherst, Ed Blaguszewski, told Western Mass News so far they only have two reported cases of students with COVID-19, but both of them are in isolation.

Gary explained the seriousness to his daughter returning to school, how easily COVID-19 could spread.

"I tried to explain that to my daughter. All it takes is one. You may say that you're keeping your groups small, but all you need is one person that comes from the outside," Gary said.

Move-in week at the university is usually a busier time, but still over at Johnny’s Tavern business has picked back up.

“We've noticed this week usually our quietest time is from about four to five, and we've been noticing traffic coming inside the door right at four o'clock," said the general manager Johnny's Tavern, Megan Carroll.

Carroll told Western Mass News they’ve seen an increase in traffic the past five days. They are taking precautions by having Plexiglas in between booths, and their waiting system sends texts when a table is ready.

"We have a text-based reservation seating right now," she said. "Anytime anyone comes in if we are close to hitting a wait or it's going to be a few minutes for their table, we do ask them to step outside.”

Again, the first day of class at UMass is this coming Monday. In the meantime, more students are expected to move on and off-campus.

Carroll said she expects a busy weekend, and an increase in business they’ve been waiting for.

Copyright 2020 Western Mass News (Meredith Corporation).  All rights reserved.

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