UMass still requiring students who come to campus to sign community agreement

The UMass Amherst Community Agreement is still in effect following the University’s decision to only provide on-campus housing for students enrolled in essential face-to-face classes

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By McKenna Premus, Assistant Social Media Editor

The University of Massachusetts is requiring all students who come to campus, whether living on or off campus, to sign the UMass Amherst Community Agreement, in addition to abiding by the Code of Student Conduct.

“The UMass Amherst Community Agreement is an articulation of students’ responsibilities to take conscious steps to protect the health and safety of the members of our community with whom they interact. The Agreement relies on all members of the campus community doing their part to protect the health and wellbeing of themselves and others,” said Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy in an email to the campus community on July 20.

The University reversed its previous decision regarding on-campus housing for the fall semester on Thursday, no longer providing “on-campus housing for students whose coursework is entirely remote,” according to Subbaswamy. “Only students who are enrolled in essential face-to-face classes, including laboratory, studio and capstone courses, which have been designated in SPIRE, will be accommodated in campus residence halls and be granted access to campus facilities and dining this fall.”

UMass will continue to enforce the agreement for the fall semester.

“The [UMass Amherst Community Agreement] is still in effect because it is based on sound public health guidance to reduce to the spread of COVID,” said Office of News and Media Relations Deputy Director Mary Dettloff.

“Yes, the UMass Amherst Community Agreement is still in effect,” the UMass website states. “Adhering to public health guidance is one of the best ways to remain healthy.”

The agreement is broken down into three main parts: “Protect Myself”, “Protect Others” and “Protect the University and Local Communities.”

As detailed in the “Protect Myself” section of the agreement, students are expected to take a viral COVID-19 test before arriving on campus or immediately upon arriving, if requested, as well as if they experience any symptoms or have been notified that they have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive. Students must monitor for symptoms and report to University Health Services if they experience any symptoms.

Students are also required to get a flu vaccine during the fall semester; engage in safe practices such as using hand sanitizer, avoiding touching their faces and sharing food, drink, utensils and similar items; and washing hands “with soap and water for at least 20 seconds frequently, especially after being in a public place or after blowing my nose, coughing or sneezing, before touching food, and after using the bathroom,” according to the agreement.

Students are expected to carry items such as hand sanitizer, extra face coverings and cleaning wipes in their bags, and respond to notifications from contract tracers and the University.

While students are required to avoid crowded spaces, the agreement specifies students will “NOT host and or attend gatherings and parties where social distancing is not possible. [They] will remove [themselves] from the gathering immediately upon a legal order from the Amherst Police Department, your local police departments or UMass Police Department.”

The agreement encourages students to develop an “isolation and quarantine plan” before returning to campus, and “assemble a Go-Kit in case [they] need to be isolated or quarantined and cannot return to my room.”

The “Protect Others” section outlines a set of behaviors students are expected to follow to protect others on campus.

Students are required to maintain appropriate social distancing, and wear face coverings “when in public, on public transportation, outside the privacy of my own room/home including on public sidewalks, roads, bike paths, parks or other public areas, or as directed by the university or local/state health authorities; face coverings must be worn in all instructional settings (classrooms, labs, studios, etc.).”

Students are further expected to stay home if they are exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms or have had possible exposure to someone who is ill or has tested positive for COVID-19. Students must adhere to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health guidelines regarding group gatherings and guests are not allowed to accompany students on campus or into any campus facility.

The “Protect the University and Local Communities” section of the agreement requires students to engage in safe practices aimed to keep the Amherst community, as well as other local communities, safe.

According to the agreement, students are expected to participate in testing and contact tracing “to preserve community health,” as well as limit leaving their homes or residence halls to “attending in-person classes, tending to necessary business, work, shopping and meal pick up, health care, outdoor activities, and other necessary university or personal business.” Students must limit personal travel outside of Amherst and cannot host outside visitors.

Students are also expected to serve as active bystanders “for the well-being of myself and others by encouraging social distancing and other health guidelines outlined [in the agreement],” helping others “remember their responsibility and [reminding] them to wear face coverings and keep appropriate distance to assure everyone’s health and safety,” as stated in the agreement.

If students have concerns regarding compliance to expectations outlined in the agreement, they are urged to report them to Residence Education staff, the Student Conduct and Community Standards Office, the Dean of Students Office or their respective academic dean’s office. Students are also encouraged to seek assistance, resources and support from the University and community staff “during this challenging time.”

“Demonstrate social responsibility by following public health guidelines in local business, public places, and on all public transportation,” the agreement states. “Show compassion, care and respect for other members of the community.”

The agreement emphasizes the highly contagious nature of COVID-19, stating that it “is possible to develop and contract the COVID-19 virus even if [they] follow all of the safety precautions [stated in the agreement] and those recommended by the CDC, local, state and federal health and medical professionals.”

Students are expected to “understand that although the university is following the coronavirus guidelines issued by the CDC, Massachusetts Department of Public Health and other experts to reduce the spread of infection, [they] can never be completely shielded from all risks of illness caused by COVID-19 or other infections.”

McKenna Premus is an Assistant Social Media Editor and can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @mckenna_premus.