More than 10 UMass Amherst students suspended for allegedly violating COVID-19 protocol

Hampshire County

AMHERST, Mass. (WWLP) – More than ten UMass Amherst students were suspended for participation at large and small gatherings during a weekend in March when the campus was operating at an elevated risk for COVID-19.

According to UMass Amherst spokesman Ed Blaguszewski, more than ten students participated in gatherings the weekend of March 6 and 7 when the campus had just emerged from severe high-risk restrictions due to a surge in positive cases. This was the same weekend where nearly 200 students gathered for a party that violated the university’s policy and state mandates.

Starting in February, students were instructed to stay in their homes or dorms except for meals.

After that weekend, all students who either hosted or attended the party were issued an interim suspension, according to Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs and Campus Life, Brandi Hephner LaBanc. Students who lived on campus were also temporarily removed from on-campus housing as they “posed an immediate health risk to other residents.”

Blaguszewski’s full statement is posted below:

“UMass Amherst does not comment on the details of specific disciplinary cases due to federal privacy law restrictions. Review of student behavior cases at UMass Amherst are adjudicated through the Code of Student Conduct in which evidence is considered, students and witnesses are interviewed, and students have the right to appeal. Sanctions are determined based on the severity of the infraction, and the range includes a reprimand, probation, removal from housing, and suspension. Of the more than 1,000 cases adjudicated in the spring, no student was suspended for merely not wearing a mask. 

More than 10 UMass Amherst students were suspended for participation at large and small gatherings on the weekend of March 6-7, when the campus was operating at Elevated Risk during the pandemic and had just emerged from severe High-Risk restrictions due to a surge in positive COVID-19 cases.

Expectations regarding students’ responsibility to follow public health protocols, and the consequences for failing to do so, were clearly communicated to students before and throughout the spring semester, and students were updated regularly as conditions changed. 

It is regrettable that UMass hockey players appeared unmasked as they returned on their bus from the NCAA championship tournament to campus. However, this event occurred later in the semester when COVID-19 positivity rates were much lower. The university’s operating posture had been lowered to Guarded and previous severe campus restrictions had been lifted. Most of the supporters gathered to welcome the team were wearing masks.”

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