The University of Massachusetts Boston Announces Online Fall
Thursday, June 25, 2020
The University of Massachusetts, one of the country’s top public research universities, announced plans to continue online college with a virtual Fall 2020.
In a letter written and published on the University of Massachusetts Boston’s website on June 22, Interim Chancellor Katherine Newman formally announced the top public research university’s plans for a virtual Fall 2020 amidst the continuing COVID-19 pandemic.
The following is a small excerpt from the Preliminary Fall 2020 Planning Report:
Dear members of the UMass Boston community,
I hope that you, your family, and your friends are safe and well.
I am writing to let you know that after consultation with a number of planning committees—composed of administration, faculty, and staff—and following discussion with authorities in public health, as well as city and state officials, I believe that the UMass Boston campus should plan to devote itself to remote instruction for the fall semester. On-campus activities will be limited to critical research and a modest set of courses students need to complete their degrees that depend on campus facilities(like the nursing simulation center).
We can and will monitor health indicators and consider bringing some limited studentactivities back on campus if the situation permits. We are hopeful that October will bring reassuring news and that we will have the opportunity to open some on-campus programs. We are even more optimistic that the spring semester 2021 will see thecampus return to a “new normal” that will allow for the restoration of our full curriculum, research, residential and student life. For the moment, however, we will adapt to the conditions we face with enthusiasm and creativity even as we know it will permit neither a fall season for our athletics program nor other on-ground student activities.
What does this mean for UMass Boston students in the Fall?Online classes and remote coursework will continue to prevail. Some research activity will resume, and a few other critical activities will be brought back. Important activities such as general medicine services at University Health Services, the primary health care provider for many UMass Boston students, will continue through the summer. Online college classes will try to adjust for time zone flexibility for international students.
UMass accepts that comprehensive testing is neither readily available and nor likely to be feasible or affordable for Fall 2020.
Social and physical distancing would be difficult to maintain on a campus that is so dense and relies on public transit for transportation.
“Beyond conditions on campus, [UMass] is also mindful that members of [its] community live in—and therefore commute back and forth to—homes and neighborhoods that are among the most vulnerable in the Commonwealth. Communities of color have borne a disproportionate burden of morbidity and mortality. Multi-generational households are common amongst [the community] and protecting [elders] must be a high priority. We have a special responsibility to bear these lives in mind even if the spread of COVID-19 slows this summer. Many epidemiologists have raised concerns about a second wave that could be even more serious in the Fall. Evidence of those waves is already growing in states that have begun opening commercial operations and recreational opportunities.”
UMass considers the impact it can have on its surrounding community when it makes decisions about continuing online college in the Fall. It prioritizes the health and safety of its surrounding community and, therefore, turns to remote learning.
Student housing, that respects social and physical distancing guidelines, is likely to be provided for students whose families live too far for a commute to be feasible and for those who lack housing.
UMass also plans to redouble efforts to ensure that their students have access to technology needed for success in online college. It is important for students to have access to basic tools in order to succeed in online learning.
When public health conditions permit, UMass plans for a phased re-opening to promote social distancing and effective hygiene.