Letter: Dear UMass students, your actions impact the larger community

This is bigger than you

By Letter Contributor

I am a parent of a 6 and a 5-year-old who lives in Hadley. When the percentage of active COVID-19 cases in the Hampshire County suddenly reaches three percent, our schools need to shut down and students must participate in remote learning. When you decide to throw or attend a party, you are contributing to these rising numbers. This means that your decision to party in the middle of a pandemic directly affects the schooling of the children in the surrounding communities.

As a Hadley resident and a UMass Amherst alumni myself, I have experienced both sides of the delicate relationship between the University and its surrounding towns. While I did not attend UMass during a pandemic, I can understand how frustrating it must feel to be robbed of a life experience that is so critical to many. However, you are also robbing my first grader from being in school and learning how to read. You are causing young children to not get the in-person support services that they desperately need. You are preventing children with autism from being able to practice the social skills that they need to crucially develop. You are preventing a child who is having difficulty from getting the proper help they need to develop this fundamental skill that will impact the rest of their lives. You are causing hardship to families who must now lose income to stay home and watch their children. This is bigger than you. When you attend or host super spreader events, you affect not only your fellow UMass students but cause hardships in the larger community.

Next time you think of hosting or attending a party, please think of the students in Hadley who will not be able to attend school if COVID-19 continues to be spread and infection numbers are further elevated. If this continues, will you comfort my first grader when she cries over school being remote for another week? Will you volunteer to tutor the children who fall behind on their skills because school is not in session?

Think before you act. Our children’s education hangs in the balance.

Christine Kelley

A Hadley Parent