UMass Amherst lowers risk from high to elevated

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AMHERST, Mass. (WWLP) – After multiple weeks of lockdown measures UMass Amherst has lowered the campus COVID-19 risk level from “high” to “elevated.”

Students can now return to a limited amount of in-person classes, but only if they are compliant with campus testing. Those who spoke with 22News said this is a step toward a sense of normalcy in the classroom and through campus life.

Following weeks of strict COVID-19 protocols, with little to no in-person student or teacher interaction, UMass Amherst looked and felt more like a normal college campus Monday afternoon.

“We can actually see people again and you can actually interact with your teacher,” one UMass student said.

Following a significant COVID-19 outbreak earlier this month cases have steadily declined which means protocols have gone from “high” to “elevated.”

On Monday, students were allowed to gather and exercise outside as well as the return of some in-person classes.

Something that’s been a long time coming for freshman Frantz Bleus.

“For me personally, I haven’t been in a classroom in almost a year,” said Bleus.

Students can only return to the classroom if they are compliant with the campus testing protocol which requires two negative tests per week.

Students also told 22News they’re hopeful that COVID-19 has hit a climax on campus and the decline in cases will continue.

“Most schools that opened last semester, there was a point where they hit a peak and I think that was just UMass’s peak,” Bleus said.

UMass athletics are also now able to practice and go back to the competition but will only play away games till mid-march. Umass men’s basketball resumes play on Tuesday.

“This last shutdown was one of the worst ones we had to deal with, but we have a big week we’re excited about it and for our opportunity tomorrow,” Head Coach of UMass Men’s Basketball Matt McCall said.

Here are the restrictions the university is still implementing:

  • Athletic practices and away contests can resume but UMass won’t host any games until mid-March
  • There will be no changes to the dining policy and grab-and-go meals will continue
  • Visitors are still not permitted on campus
  • No unauthorized student gatherings of any size are permitted
  • Employment restrictions will also lift for students who are in compliance with the twice-weekly testing requirements.

There are currently 239 active cases on campus.

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