AMHERST, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -- Students began to move-in at UMass Amherst on Thursday, marking the first of a multi-day process designed to limit exposure to COVID-19.
On a campus that usually has more than 20,000 undergraduates swarming the campus, only around 1,100 are allowed to actually live on-campus this semester.
Due to COVID-19, most students will complete their classes remotely, but for those with labs and studio work that can't be done from behind a screen, moving back on-campus is a process.
“Today, we’re moving in about 200 students in the eight different residence halls. On a normal move-in day, we move 4,000 students in,” said Dawn Bond, director of residential life operations at UMass Amherst.
UMass Amherst students are coming to campus in a contactless move-in event that lasts throughout the weekend.
COVID-19 has restricted on-campus living to students with in-person classes, select international students, and others approved by the school.
Before they even unpack their bags, the students must report to the Mullins Center 30 minutes ahead of schedule to get a COVID-19 test.
“About 30 seconds later, you’re out the door so, from an in and out perspective, we’re looking at less than four minutes for each individual,” said Jeffrey Hescock, executive director of Environmental Health and Safety at UMass.
“If it’s a negative test result, they’ll receive an email. If it’s a positive test result, they’ll get a call from our health director,” Hescock added.
If a student tests positive, Hescock said students will be contacted by their team of health experts to assist with contact tracing and quarantining.
“We had one positive test result from asymptomatic. That has been the only positive test result,” Hescock noted.
Western Mass News spoke to one student who will be moving in Saturday. Ananya Venkatesan is a data science major. She told Western Mass News the school approved her to live on-campus to complete her fully remote coursework.
“They gave priority to the students who like…international students probably, who absolutely needed housing and our RAs and stuff like that and then they opened it up to everyone else, so I had a very last-minute decision to go back,” Hescock added.
Venkatesan said she received an email about having to take maintenance COVID-19 testing while on-campus - a measure she doesn’t mind.
“I think it’s good they’re taking all these precautions, so all of us are more safe,” Venkatesan added.
The students only have two hours to move in and they have to retrieve their keys from their mailboxes, rather than from a member of residential life.