College Divulges Summer and "Hopeful" Fall Covid-19 Restrictions

Several Covid restrictions will continue over the summer, Dean of Students Liz Agosto told The Student. Notable restrictions include the continuation of a mask mandate while inside, a curfew and mandatory on-campus testing. Agosto relayed that fall guidelines will be officially determined closer to the start of the semester. The college’s restrictions contrast sharply with the guidance issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as nearby colleges like Williams. 

Following Commencement on May 30, the following changes will made to Covid-19 restrictions on campus:

  • Masks will only be required indoors and when it is not possible to maintain a six-foot physical distance. 
  • On-campus students will be able to leave campus without approval between the hours of 7 a.m. and 8 p.m. EST. 
  • Students participating in on-campus programs but living off-campus will be able to visit campus during the hours of 7 a.m. and 8 p.m. EST. These students will have access to academic and administrative buildings, but not to residence halls. 
  • On-campus testing will be twice a week at most. 
  • Students will be able to order contactless delivery on their own.

“This summer we will begin to transition to the conditions we hope will be in place for the fall semester.” Agosto said. “We are not making these changes prior to Commencement in order to minimize risks that could negatively affect our in-person ceremony for seniors and their guests.”

Some Covid restrictions will, however, remain in place for the summer and fall. Students seeking to depart campus for an extended period of time or overnight will still need to seek approval so that appropriate quarantine protocols can be practiced.

“The decision to allow on-campus students to leave campus and off-campus students participating in approved campus programs to travel to campus between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m. allows students to be able to move on and off campus for personal needs, to grab a meal and even to take a short trip for recreation without needing approval,” Agosto stated.

The college has downgraded its Covid-19 safety protocols largely because it mandated that all returning students be vaccinated. However, in the words of Agosto, the college is “continuing to remain vigilant” because it expects that not all students will have fulfilled the requirement upon returning in the fall.

Just an hour away at Williams College, all students, faculty and staff may be outside without masks, Williams College President Maud Mandel announced on May 18. Beginning on May 29, fully vaccinated individuals will not be required to wear masks or socially distance indoors. Williams will also allow graduating seniors to invite up to six individuals to graduation, the traditional number of invitees allowed. Faculty and staff will also be allowed to attend the ceremonies.

The Williams announcement follows Governor Charlie Baker’s plan to end all remaining Covid restrictions, with a few exceptions involving health care settings and public transit, on May 29. Nearly 75 percent of the population of Massachusetts has received at least one dose

Amherst’s updates regarding the off-campus travel window were first posted to the housing portal in the early morning of May 14.  Ella Steciuk ’23 and Caitlin Wizda ’22 are two students who noticed the update. They will both be on campus in the summer and fall. 

Steciuk is excited by the prospect of being able to leave campus once again. Going into the town of Amherst is one thing that she missed most this year. Nevertheless, Steciuk is dissatisfied by the summer announcement that Moore will be a dorm offered for student housing. Specifically, Steciuk wishes that all summer residents could be housed in air conditioned dorms like the Greenways. 

“I currently live in Moore — meaning I am staying in my current room. My CDC [Community Development Coordinator] had told me before that announcement that she thought all summer students would be moved to the Greenways because they have air conditioning and I think the Greenways are much nicer,” Steciuk expressed.

Wizda is also glad that restrictions are loosening and that students will be allowed to go off campus. She said, “Being stuck on campus has definitely felt a bit isolating. I’m really looking forward to the chance to go into town, Northampton and other places.”

Wizda is concerned about the restrictive nature of the hours, however. Specifically she worries that the 8 p.m. limit is too early. “I think that letting us be off campus a little earlier in the day to a bit later at night is a totally reasonable ask and Amherst should definitely think about extending these hours.”