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350 UMass students could face discipline for violating Covid protocols

The violations have contributed to a spike in cases and a number of "drastic" measures at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, officials said.
Image: University of Massachusetts at Amherst campus
University of Massachusetts at Amherst.John Greim / LightRocket via Getty Images

Hundreds of students at the University of Massachusetts Amherst could face disciplinary action after officials said they disregarded Covid-19 protocols, contributing to a spike in cases and a number of new restrictions at the school.

Weeks into the spring semester, the university has referred 354 students to the school’s conduct office for violating guidelines related to everything from masks to social distancing, school leaders said.

All could be suspended, removed from campus housing, placed on probation or reprimanded, according to the university. It is not clear when students will learn their fates.

The school's disclosure to the Amherst Town Council came Monday, the day after the school canceled all in-person classes and forced students to self-sequester. Students are only allowed out for food, twice weekly Covid testing or medical emergencies.

"To many of you these may seem like drastic measures, but faced with the surge in cases we are experiencing in our campus community, we have no choice but to take these steps," Chancellor Kumble R. Subbaswamy said in a letter to the university community.

Those safeguards will remain in place through at least Feb. 21 after the university recorded nearly 300 positive cases over the course of two days last week, he said. As of Wednesday, that number had grown to 423, according to an online university database.

"Let this moment be a stark reminder to any of you who may have been cavalier about Covid-19 that your individual behavior has a profound impact on everyone in your community,” Subbaswamy said.