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UMass Boston’s spring semester COVID-19 policies explained

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A UMass Boston student sits next to a COVID mask protocol notice in University Hall.

With another semester starting comes reacquaintance with UMass Boston’s COVID-19 protocols. Here is everything you need to know about starting in person this spring semester in a once-in-a-century pandemic.

On Jan. 12, Chancellor Marcelo Suárez-Orosco sent a campus-wide email outlining the provisions necessary for students to be able to attend their classes in person. 

The email emphasizes to students that surgical masks, KN95 masks or multi-layer filter masks offer more protection against COVID-19. As such, the university thoroughly proposes that students utilize surgical grade masks, so as to augment the well-being of themselves, their families and other individuals. 
Additionally, the email advocates for individuals to layer with a surgical grade mask so as to better shield themselves from COVID-19 transmission. Medical grade masks will be made available at several locations on campus, and masks will continue to be required in all indoor spaces at UMass Boston and throughout the city of Boston.

Vaccine Requirements:

Just as Boston University, Northeastern University and the University of Massachusetts Amherst have made it mandatory for their students to be boosted in the spring semester, all UMass Boston students are required to receive booster shots by Feb. 1, 2022, or two weeks after being deemed qualified to receive the booster shot. Students that fail to comply with this mandate will have a hold placed on their WISER, and this will prohibit students from being able to register for classes in the fall. 

Recently hired employees of UMass Boston must demonstrate proof of vaccination in advance of starting their tenure at UMass Boston. Vaccination exemptions will only be granted for religious or medical reasons. Existing faculty and staff that have not received a vaccine waiver based on religious or medical reasons will also be mandated to receive booster shots for the Spring semester of 2022, if they are qualified to receive it. 

What to do if you test positive for COVID-19:

In the instance that an individual tests positive for COVID-19, they are mandated to isolate for at least five days, in accordance with recently revised CDC guidelines. 

Asymptomatic individuals, or individuals that test positive for COVID-19 but do not display symptoms, will be able to stop their isolation period if they take an antigen test and receive a negative result six or more days after they’ve tested for COVID-19. However, if a person continues to display symptoms and receives a positive test result, that individual will still be mandated to isolate the requisite 10 days. 

People that have a positive test result, but whose isolation period ends before the mandated 10 days will be required to wear their masks at all times when present on campus grounds. This signifies that 10 days after such individuals have tested positive, they will be forbidden from taking off their masks when consuming food and beverages. 
If individuals are vaccinated but are not boosted, they will still be mandated to quarantine for five days after being exposed to COVID-19. Once the five day period has ended, individuals will be tasked with acquiring a COVID-19 test and must continuously wear their masks for six to ten days. 

When students are in classrooms, they are not only mandated to wear their masks at all times, but are also not allowed to consume food and beverages. In the case that individuals do have to eat or drink something, the way to do this responsibly is for individuals to do their best to be as distant from people as much as possible when engaging in these activities. Eating and drinking is one of the few times when students should be removing their masks while indoors.

Situations where masks are not requisite for individuals is outdoors, when alone in personal or research offices, in dorm rooms, outdoors, for children that are not yet two years old, for students actively competing in NCAA sporting events, and students that are performing on stage during specific university-approved performing arts affairs.

In the instance that there is a COVID-19 exposure in your class:

If it is determined that there has been an exposure to COVID-19 in a classroom environment, University Health Services will notify the professor first. Then, students in the class will be contacted so that UHS can provide additional support. 

It is strongly encouraged that all individuals acquire a COVID-19 test following the 5 days after initial exposure. Individuals that have acquired the mandatory vaccines will not be mandated to quarantine but will be responsible for monitoring their symptoms. Consistent observation of symptoms without mandatory quarantine will apply to boosted individuals as well.

Those who are not vaccinated or not boosted, if eligible, will have to quarantine for five days and will have to remain masked for five to 10 days, and will be prohibited from consuming food while present on university grounds, so as not to precipitate the removal of surgical grade masks. 

Individuals that are simultaneously vaccinated and boosted will still be expected to arrive and participate in their courses, and fully vaccinated and boosted professors will still be expected to conduct in-person courses. 

On the condition that a professor has to quarantine, professors will interdepartmentally collaborate with their respective Department, Dean and the Provost’s office to create a course of action, or temporarily convert their in-person course to a remote setting for the duration of the professor’s quarantine. 

The university strongly recommends that students stay home if they suspect they are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and/or are feeling unwell.
With the perpetuity of this pandemic, balancing a college course load on top of handling individual responsibilities can all be incredibly stressful to simultaneously juggle. For anyone that is feeling stressed, the university is making counseling available at University Health Services Counseling Center.

About the Contributor
Gabriella Diplan, Contributing Writer