The University of Massachusetts Amherst announced Thursday night that students were no longer invited to return to campus if they had only online classes, a significant change to its fall plans aimed at drastically reducing the population in the dormitories and surrounding town as coronavirus infections rise.
The public university system’s flagship campus is the latest and largest higher education institution in Massachusetts to roll back its reopening plans. Classes are scheduled to start on Aug. 24, and many families were preparing to travel to Amherst and move students in. Many have signed leases off-campus.
“I realize that today’s announcement will cause disruption for many of you and is a major departure from the plan we released in June,” UMass Amherst Chancellor Kumble R. Subbaswamy wrote in a message to students and families. “Our intention at that time, with our plans to conduct most classes remotely while inviting all students back to campus, was to strike a balance between the immersive residential experience so important to our students’ development and the health and safety of the entire community in the Amherst area. Unfortunately, despite our best efforts and detailed planning, the proliferation of the pandemic has left us with no choice but to pursue this more stringent approach.”