UMass students reveal why they decided to move out only weeks into the semester

“I had been in quarantine up until I left campus”

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McKenna Premus/Daily Collegian

By Rachael Dionisio, Collegian Contributor

On  Feb. 7, The University of Massachusetts Amherst decided to raise its operational posture from ‘Elevated’ to ‘High,’ resulting in a two-week lockdown. The lockdown ended this past weekend when the posture was lowered once again to  ‘Elevated.’ Following the lockdown decision, many students decided to move out on a whim, just weeks after the move-in period for the semester.

The lockdown included strict COVID-19 restrictions that challenged students physically, mentally and financially, which ultimately led to some students’ decision to move out.

“All in-person classes will move to remote format, students can leave their residences to: get meals, undergo twice weekly COVID-19 testing, attend medical appointments,” UMass stated in the email that they sent out announcing the school’s more to the ‘high risk’ posture.

When UMass reached a high of 125 cases in a single day on Feb. 8, according to the COVID-19 dashboard, many students felt unsafe on campus and decided it was best to finish the semester from home.

“I was feeling so overwhelmed that week just because I felt like the only thing to talk about was COVID [-19], so I decided to move out when I was able to get the full refund,” said Lyla Carvalho, a freshman biology major who originally was planning to spend the semester in Wheeler Hall.

Carvalho, who moved out on Feb. 10,  said that  she had wished she could stay but felt it was the most logical decision at the time.

Former Van Meter resident Shannon Hurley, a freshman communication major, who had moved out when the ‘Elevated’ status began had similar concerns. She said that she had also moved out in time to get a refund on housing, since she worried that UMass would be sending students home.

“I was and still am really conflicted if I made the right choice because it could get better, but ultimately for my mental health’s sake and financially it just made sense for me,” she stated.

Considering the strictly limited social ability that came with the lockdown, Hurley suggested that she has more freedom with social interactions and work at home.

Rachel Bier, a freshman psychology major and  former Moore Hall resident who moved out on Feb. 12, suggested that her contact tracing experience played a role in her decision.

“I had been in quarantine up until I left campus for contact tracing and I didn’t want to get contact traced again and get sent back to the [UMass] hotel,” she said.

Despite wanting to cancel housing early in order to get a full refund, many students expressed that the spike in COVID-19 cases was also a factor that drove students away from their on-campus housing.

“It felt a lot safer to be back at home than on campus. It’s really unfortunate that even with the precautions and testing in place that we weren’t able to keep it safer,” said Amy Testa, a freshman on the exploratory track for education who originally lived in Dwight Hall in Northeast residential area.

Testa revealed that she was too paranoid to stay on campus.

As of Feb. 22, UMass decided to shift their status from ‘High,” back to ‘Elevated,’ re-initiating in-person classes and resuming athletic practice and competition. However, strict safety procedures are still intact, such as requiring students to show a green check on their Campus Health Hub page indicating testing compliance to enter the dining halls.

Rachael Dionisio can be reached at [email protected].