UMass Boston will conduct all courses online this fall, its interim chancellor announced on Monday. The move is an effort to protect students and staff at the urban commuter school, Katherine Newman wrote.
“Our community members commute every day from some of the most vulnerable neighborhoods in the Commonwealth, those who have been hardest hit by the pandemic. We have a responsibility to ensure their safety and that of their older relatives,” she wrote.
As the university weighed several options for the fall, many at UMB expressed support for the plan to continue online because they or their family are members of at-risk groups including the Black and Latinx communities, Newman wrote. Many students and staff also rely on public transportation to get to campus, and it is hard to physically distance on the bus or subway, she noted.
Newman acknowledged that remote learning will be difficult for many, especially those without a quiet place at home to study. She also noted that several other local campuses, especially private colleges, have vowed to bring students back. But she explained that UMB is different for several reasons.
“In important respects — especially the extent of daily reliance on public transportation and the prevalence of COVID-19 in the communities they serve — these institutions are very different from UMass Boston,” Newman wrote.
Newman also noted that infection rates are spiking in many states that have reopened and that student athletes in many of those places have become infected, something she said she does not want to happen to the Beacons.
"Comprehensive weekly testing of a large urban population of commuting students, faculty and staff, isolating those who are infected from their fellow students, colleagues and family members, and quarantining at scale would be very hard for our campus," she wrote.
Newman said faculty are reworking their course plans and undergoing training to prepare for a remote semester this fall.