HADLEY, Mass. (WWLP) – With UMass Amherst now being labeled high-risk, surrounding communities are trying to figure out how to stop the spread from reaching them.
According to the university’s COVID-19 dashboard, there are at least 600 active cases.
“I’m not surprised,” said Steve Melanson a junior at UMass Amherst. “They brought kids back onto campus. It was bound to happen.”
Students have been advised to stay at home. Only recommended to leave for a covid test, food, or out of medical necessity until at least February 21.
“The Hadley Board of Health encourages all local businesses of the chancellor of the University of Massachusetts,” Doctor Susan Mosler, the Chair of Hadley’s Board of Health. “We are not enforcing the university guidelines that is not our role.”
This after a photo was sent to 22News of a sign posted at the Planet Fitness in Hadley. Saying in part, “The Hadley Board of Health informed us that we are not able to provide services as this time to both on and off-campus UMass students.”
“The Hadley Board of Health did not create the sign, we did not choose the language on the sign,” Mosler told 22News.
UMass Amherst released a statement to 22News addressing the confusion created by “false reports regarding COVID-19 restrictions for its students and interaction with local businesses”:
The University of Massachusetts Amherst has not authorized any staff member to contact area businesses or town officials to request that UMass students be prevented from working at or patronizing local establishments. Nor is the university aware of any staff member who has done so. It is not within the university’s authority to instruct businesses how to engage with their employees or customers who may be UMass students.
Our responsibility is to communicate directly with students about the need to self-sequester so they can meet the requirements of the university’s COVID-19 High-Risk operational posture, which does include provisions for them to be out and about in the community.University of Massachusetts Amherst
Mosler said she spoke with Planet Fitness on Wednesday and found out the sign was taken down on Monday. While it is still unclear if that policy is still in effect, Cody Gosselin, a senior at UMass said he was told he could not work out at the gym a few days ago.
“They asked if I was a student and I said yeah and I didn’t work out that day,” said Cody. “I was kind of looking to see if there are other gyms that are open because the UMass gym isn’t open.”
22News reached out to Planet Fitness’ regional office and is still waiting to hear back.