UMass Amherst will require all students who return to campus for the fall semester to be fully vaccinated, school officials announced in an email to the campus community Thursday afternoon.
The requirement comes as part of the university’s fall reopening plan, as the school prepares “for a return to normal campus operations for the next academic year,” Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy wrote in the email. Both undergraduate and graduate students who access school resources must be vaccinated, with religious and disability accommodations available.
“The expectation is that our campuses and classrooms will overwhelmingly consist of vaccinated individuals, greatly reducing the risk of infection for all,” according to the reopening plan.
All faculty and staff are “strongly encouraged and recommended” to get vaccinated before the fall semester, school officials said.
The announcement falls in line with several other colleges in the state that will require students to get vaccinated before returning to campus, including Emerson College, Boston University, and Northeastern University. Other colleges across the country, including Notre Dame, Bowdoin College, Columbia University and Brown University have announced similar measures.
On Wednesday, the state’s 15 community colleges announced they would not require students to get vaccinated to access campus, arguing that the mandate would create an unnecessary burden. However, students and faculty are encouraged to get immunized.
Students can expect the fall to resemble a typical school year with entirely in-person classes and full-capacity residence halls, which house about 13,000 students. The school offered a mix of in-person and remote classes during the spring semester, with residence halls housing just a few thousand students on campus.
Since the pandemic began, the state’s flagship campus has suffered financially from the transition to remote learning and reduced campus operations, Subbaswamy said.
“The pandemic… resulted in more than $200 million in lost revenue, leaving the campus with a projected $9 million deficit for FY21,” the chancellor wrote.
With federal support through the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF), part of the government’s $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, the campus will be able to resume campus operations normally for FY22, the email said.
Matt Berg can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @mattberg33.