AMHERST, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -- Officials at UMass Amherst has released their reopening plans for the fall semester.
In a letter to the campus community, UMass Amherst Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy said that all courses that do not require a physical prescence on campus will be offered remotely.
In addition, those undergraduate students who have reserved on-campus housing for the fall, and for whom there is space available, are invited to live on-campus under what Subbaswamy described as "strict public health behavioral restrictions."
"Students must agree not only to the standard Code of Student Conduct, but also to a set of protocols outlined in The UMass Agreement, a commitment that they will be required to sign. The protocols students must adhere to will include but are not limited to strict physical distancing, wearing face coverings outside personal living spaces, limiting social contacts to a minimal number of people per day, the prohibition of guests in residence halls, subjecting themselves to virus testing on demand, daily self-monitoring and reporting, assisting with contact tracing, and limiting travel away from the immediate campus area for work and/or emergencies only," Subbaswamy explained.
University officials added that those students who live on-campus or who are returning the area and living off-campus must know that doing so does not guarantee they will be able to take in-person classes.
Subbasswamy noted that it is "highly likely" that most or all of a student's classes will be done remotely.
"Only essential face-to-face labs, studios, performance, and other courses involving hands-on work will be conducted on campus and in-person. These courses have already been identified by deans, department heads, chairs, and faculty with priority placed on courses involving seniors so as to not impede their progress toward degree completion. All other courses will be delivered remotely," Subbaswamy noted.
Graduate courses will also held remotely, except for those that need face-to-face labs, studios, performance, or other hands-on work. Those students will also need to agree to The UMass Agreement.
All students accessing the campus will be tested before moving into on-campus housing or taking part in any university programming. A testing, isolation, and contact tracing protocol will also be established for students, faculty, and staff before the semester starts.
Subbaswamy noted that they understand that not everyone would "want to live or spend time on campus under such conditions" and said that "no students will be required to do so." He added that those at high-risk for COVID-19 not come to campus, unless that person believes that the risk on-campus is less than an alternative.
Those students and families that don't want to assume the risk of being on-campus are being asked to stay home and take remote courses.
The chancellor also addressed what would happen if cases increase in the university community or nearby towns.
"...We may be forced to shift to an entirely remote mode of operation, with the closure of residence halls and campus facilities, as happened in March 2020," Subbaswamy said.
The fall semester is set to begin on August 24 and conclude on November 20. At that time, students are expected to move out of on-campus housing.
Final exams will be held remotely after Thanksgiving.
Western Mass News will continue to follow this story and will have more as it becomes available.