UMass Dartmouth unveils campus reopening plan

DARTMOUTH – Offering a combination of face-to-face, blended and remote-learning courses, requiring face coverings on campus and using specific residence halls for quarantining are part of the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth’s campus reopening plan announced Monday.

UMass Dartmouth was among the local colleges who closed their campuses in March and conducted online learning for the rest of the spring semester due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Other institutions, including the University of Rhode Island, Wheaton College, Roger Williams University, Bryant University, Johnson & Wales University and Rhode Island School of Design, have recently announced their respective reopening plans for the fall.

UMass Dartmouth said that it formed a pandemic emergency response team last month to work on addressing immediate needs of the campus community, as well as being configured into 10 planning groups to help safely reopen campus.

UMass Dartmouth’s full reopening plan can be found here.

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While changes to dates to the academic calendar have been made – classes start Sept. 2 and will continue through Dec. 16 – UMass Dartmouth said that all instructional activities and final exams will be moved online starting Nov. 30 “to minimize the risk of any potential outbreak caused by students and faculty returning from travel.” The classes, themselves, will be offered in person, both in-person and online synchronously, or online only depending on the course, the university said.

Students living on campus will not be allowed to have guests for at least the first two weeks of the semester based on public-health guidance, UMass Dartmouth said. Shared spaces, such as lounges, laundry rooms or bathrooms will have “strict occupancy limits.”

Residential move-in periods will be staggered, UMass Dartmouth said. First-year students will be assigned time slots for between Aug. 28-30, and Aug. 31-Sept. 1 for both transfers and returning students.

Students from states other than Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, New York and New Jersey who are both moving onto campus and leaving during Thanksgiving break must quarantine for 14 days per commonwealth policy. Also, residential students are “strongly discouraged” to travel away from the immediate campus area unless it is for work or emergencies, UMass Dartmouth said.

Regarding health, UMass Dartmouth said it does not at this time plan to engage in broad-surveillance testing. But, it will coordinate with Quest Diagnostics or an individuals’ own health care provider to test students and faculty who have COVID-19 symptoms or asymptomatic people who have been recently exposed to the virus.

“The University will work alongside the local boards of health and other related agencies to help contact tracing efforts and is currently developing additional steps to aid in contact tracing on campus,” UMass Dartmouth said. It also said students and faculty must check for symptoms daily before coming to campus.

UMass Dartmouth will have specific residence halls to allow individuals to quarantine or isolate if they are required to. Students in quarantine will receive full support, UMass Dartmouth said, including dining and health services, counseling and academic advising. Students living off-campus cannot quarantine on campus, the university said.

Face coverings will also be required “in all public places on campus,” unless a medical exemption is obtained, UMass Dartmouth said. Also transparent barriers will be installed in areas that have high volumes of personal interaction.

James Bessette is the PBN special projects editor, and also covers the nonprofit and education sectors. You may reach him at You may also follow him on Twitter at @James_Bessette.

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