AMHERST, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -- UMass Amherst has released their plans of the upcoming spring semester.

In a letter to the campus community, Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy said that in-person, face-to-face undergraduate and graduate instruction will be offered on the Amherst campus for certain labs, classes, and studios that are identified as requiring in-person instruction.

He added that first-year students may also be offered the opportunity for face-to-face instruction.

However, the university noted that while limited face-to-face learning will take place, a majority of teaching will be fully remote.

Specific cohorts, listed below, will be created for those undergraduates, who will be given the option to live on-campus in the spring.

  • Students enrolled in mandatory face-to-face classes
  • Students dependent on the university for housing and dining, including international students, as well as students requiring specific academic accommodations or those participating in athletics
  • First-year students and entering transfer students, enrolled in Fall 2020 and Spring 2021

According to Subbaswamy, those groups of students represent approximately 60 percent of the campus's typical residential population.

Subbaswamy explained:

"While I am pleased that a larger percentage of our students will be afforded the opportunity to return to campus and take part in the immersive residential experience, my heart goes out to students to whom we are not able to extend this invitation. Put simply, given the nature of the pandemic, the campus cannot operate at full capacity and adequately provide the virus testing, contact tracing, social distancing, and quarantine and isolation measures necessary while the pandemic continues. However, at 60% capacity, we are confident we can provide all of these vital services to our campus community while fulfilling our educational mission."

The spring semester will begin on February 1, which UMass noted is a two-week delay and will put the campus community further along in the typical Massachusetts flu season, as well as provide for more outdoor time and activities.

UMass added that their spring plans will require strict adherence by all students, living on or off campus, to certain protocols including:

  • Twice weekly asymptomatic virus testing
  • Adaptive testing when warranted
  • Daily self-monitoring and reporting
  • Mandatory face coverings outside personal living spaces
  • Strict social distancing
  • The formation of small social groupings or pods to limit students’ in-person interactions
  • Cooperation with contact tracing
  • Prohibition of guests in residence halls, dining commons, and in other campus buildings
  • Limiting travel away from the immediate campus area for work and/or emergencies only

Students are also reminded that the university's Code of Student Conduct will apply both on and off-campus, and compliance with the policy will be a requirement.

Edward Blaguszewski, executive director of strategic communications for the university, told Western Mass News the majority of classes will remain remote come this spring.

"From what I understand, at this stage, there is not a great increase at all in face-to-face learning," he explained. "We’ll have a full sense of that after registration, and depending on who chooses to apply to come to campus.”

Western Mass News will continue to follow this story and will have more information as it becomes available.

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