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A list of COVID-19 outbreaks at New England colleges

Boston College in Newton.John Tlumacki/Globe Staff

Hundreds of college students at New England-area universities have become infected with COVID-19 since returning to campuses across the region this fall, leaving school and state officials scrambling to contain the virus' spread.

Here’s a list of outbreaks that have occurred.

University of Massachusetts Amherst

Thirteen students at the school have tested positive for the virus in the past week, the university said Sept. 25.

The students, who live off campus, socialized together and several attended the same party, according to the school. University officials told the Globe they were not able to provide further details on the party.

In a letter to students, the university said additional positive cases could be reported in the coming days.


Health officials said they were notifying people who came in close contact with the students so they can be tested and quarantined.

The university requires students who live on campus or go to campus for in-person classes to be tested for COVID-19 twice a week. Undergraduate students in the area who don’t attend classes on campus are encouraged to be tested twice a week, and graduate students are asked to seek weekly tests.

The Campus Pond and W. E. B. Du Bois Library at UMass Amherst. Blake Nissen for the Boston Globe/file
Boston College

From Aug. 16 until Sept. 24, BC has seen a total of 153 positive cases, according to the college’s testing results website. About half of those cases were identified in a one-week period when students did not wear masks or practice social distancing during two off-campus gatherings, the university said.

Seventy-three students tested positive between Sept. 7 and 13, according to the university. BC identified the students who attended those gatherings through contact tracing, and school officials said they had mild symptoms.

On Sept. 9, the Globe reported that 13 members of the university’s men’s and women’s swimming and diving team tested positive for the virus, prompting BC to shut down the program.


The state then said it would take the lead on contact tracing efforts at the university after BC faced criticism for its testing regimen, and students, parents, and staff expressed concerns that the university was not equipped to contain the spread of the virus.

Despite the positive tests, students told the Globe dining halls remained open and students continued to sit together in large groups. Sports teams continued to practice, dorms were full, and students still socialized in apartments and neighborhood bars.

Students walked on Boston College's campus earlier this month.Suzanne Kreiter/Globe staff
University of Rhode Island

Multiple members of Greek Life at the South Kingston, R.I., school have tested positive for the virus, causing the school to order more than 100 students at one fraternity and two sorority houses to quarantine.

A URI spokesman said two members of a sorority house, one member of a fraternity house, and three members of another sorority house have tested positive. The other members of the houses were tested and asked to self-quarantine for 14 days.

The university said Friday it was canceling spring break over coronavirus concerns, opting to hold classes through the one-week period in March and ending the semester a week early instead.

A building on campus of the University of Rhode Island.Steven Senne/Associated Press
Providence College

A total of 220 students at Providence College have contracted COVID-19, according to college and state health officials.

The college had initially issued a stay-at-home order to all students, including those who live in on- and off-campus housing, and announced a switch to remote learning until Sept. 26 after 84 students tested positive in two days. School officials then announced remote learning would be extended until Oct. 3.


State legislators have called for the university to continue with remote learning for the rest of the semester.

The college has not said it would stick with remote instruction, but school officials warned last week that they would close the campus for the rest of the semester if they could not contain the outbreak.

A spokesman for the college told the Globe that the school was not able to identify a single event that caused the outbreak, but that the majority of cases involve students who live off campus.

Rhode Island Governor Gina M. Raimondo blamed outbreaks at Providence College and the University of Rhode Island for increasing the state’s positive test rate. The rise caused officials in Connecticut, New York, and New Jersey to add Rhode Island to their lists of states whose residents must quarantine if they visit.

Providence College.Jonathan Wiggs/Globe Staff
Merrimack College

More than 50 students in a single residence hall have tested positive for COVID-19 at the North Andover college, officials said last week, prompting the university to require the building’s 266 residents to quarantine for two weeks.

While the outbreak appears to be limited to students who live in the Monican Centre dorm, school administrators said, all on-campus students had to begin taking two coronavirus tests weekly, and faculty, staff, and commuter students are encouraged to get tested two times per week, school officials said.


The school had initially said 17 students who lived in the dorm tested positive before announcing additional cases.

Most of the 266 students are quarantining off campus, officials said, and the rest are isolating on campus.

The students will attend classes remotely and Monican Centre will be professionally cleaned before any of the students move back in.

Holy Cross

In late August, officials said a large off-campus party earlier in the month at the Worcester school led to 21 COVID-19 cases.

The gathering took place Aug. 15 at an off-campus apartment on College Street, and those who attended did not wear masks or follow social distancing guidelines, the school said in a letter to students.

The Jesuit college had announced earlier in August that it would be teaching students online this fall, despite initially saying it would welcome students back to campus for in-person learning.

Holy Cross's campus. Suzanne Kreiter/Globe staff

Bob Hohler, Laura Krantz, Deirdre Fernandes, Amanda Milkovits, Dan McGowan, and Edward Fitzpatrick of the Globe staff and Globe correspondents Jeremy C. Fox, Abigail Feldman, Nick Stoico contributed to this report.

Amanda Kaufman can be reached at amanda.kaufman@globe.com. Follow her @amandakauf1.