LOWELL, Mass. – UMass Lowell will expand its on-campus population and in-person course offerings for the spring 2021 semester, thanks to the lessons learned navigating the pandemic during the fall and a successful surveillance testing program that has identified only two positive COVID-19 tests this semester.
“With a half-semester of experience and lessons learned about safely conducting classes and university operations in the midst of the pandemic, we’re confident we can expand our on-campus population, in-person learning and activities in January,” Chancellor Jacquie Moloney wrote in a letter sent to campus this morning. “Our reduced fall reopening may not have been ideal, but it has been invaluable preparation for the months ahead.”
The university, which begins spring course registration for students Nov. 2, expects up to 30 percent of its 3,000 course sections will be offered in in-person and hybrid formats. UMass Lowell also plans to more than double the residential student population in the spring up to 2,000, about 40 percent of the total capacity.
Moloney also touted the positive role the university’s students and employees are playing on campus and in the community with only two positive cases out of 8,764 surveillance tests conducted – a positivity rate of 0.023 percent – as well as isolation and quarantine protocols in place if there are additional cases of COVID-19 on campus in the weeks and months ahead.
“Across the country, it is universities that are driving outbreaks and COVID-19 clusters in many communities,” Moloney wrote. “In Lowell, we are part of the solution. By working effectively to keep case counts low, we reduce the spread of illness and free up city resources to focus on existing clusters.”
The chancellor also highlighted efforts underway to increase on-campus experiences for students.
“While state limits on in-person gatherings remain, Student Affairs is organizing additional activities that enable students to interact face-to-face making use of outdoor spaces, social distancing and face coverings. River Hawk hockey and basketball will be underway when the new semester begins. And our Athletic Department is working with the America East Conference to implement additional COVID-19 testing and other protocols that will enable spring and postponed fall sports to compete this spring with modified schedules,” she wrote.
Moloney emphasized that even with more people on campus, strict safety and cleaning protocols will remain and no office will operate at greater than 25 percent capacity. She also wrote that UMass Lowell will continue to be flexible with individuals who need to work remotely due to personal or family health risk factors or child care requirements.
“This has been a difficult time, but I’m so proud of what we’ve accomplished together,” Moloney wrote. “Even as we’re unable to meet as we’d like, impressive university achievements continue. We’re seeing record student engagement in career fairs and active participation in co-ops and internships as we continue to prepare future graduates for what comes next. We just announced last week that more than two dozen UMass Lowell researchers are sharing nearly $12 million in research grants on topics ranging from advanced renewable energy to high-tech textiles.”
Spring 2021 classes will begin on Jan. 25, 2021, one week later than previously planned in order to provide more time for on-campus residents to arrive and quarantine appropriately before moving into residence halls. There will be no spring break in order to reduce student travel. No classes will be held on Presidents Day (Feb. 15), Patriots Day (April 19) or on Friday, March 19. Fall semester’s surveillance testing program will expand with spring’s increased on-campus population with all residential students and student athletes being tested at least weekly. A strategic sample of commuter students, faculty and staff will also get weekly testing.
Additional details about plans for spring 2021 are available and regularly updated on the university’s website
UMass Lowell is a national research university offering its more than 18,000 students bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in business, education, engineering, fine arts, health, humanities, sciences and social sciences. UMass Lowell delivers high-quality educational programs and personal attention from leading faculty and staff, all of which prepare graduates to be leaders in their communities and around the globe. www.uml.edu