UMass Lowell plans to use a mix of in-person, hybrid and virtual instruction this fall when it plans to welcome students back to campus.
Following local, state and federal guidance, highlights of the reopening plan include keeping in-person classes and labs at 25 to 50 percent of previous capacity, while making larger lectures virtual; opening residence halls at reduced capacity; using enhanced protocols for physical-distancing and disease prevention; and resuming campus operations in phases over the summer and fall.
Chancellor Jacquie Moloney said, “These are challenging times for our community and our society as we grapple with the uncertainties of this international pandemic and the physical, personal and economic toll it has taken on our world and our lives.”
In workspaces and classrooms, UMass Lowell will impose at least six-feet distancing and face coverings will be required when unable to physically distance. Large campus events will be replaced by smaller programs or virtual activities to encourage safe interactions. The university, however, said it plans to employ creative uses of technology and programming to “enhance and enrich the living and learning experiences of students.” It is also prepared to modify its plans should there be a need to return to all-remote learning and operations.
UMass Lowell transitioned to online learning and remote work in mid-March, moving more than 2,700 classes online using technology such as Zoom, Blackboard learning management system, the vLabs virtual desktop environment and Skype for Business. Hundreds of remote meetings and other virtual events took place over the spring semester, culminating with the university’s first virtual Commencement ceremony on May 29. Virtual workshops, seminars and orientation programs also are underway to engage new students and help them get acclimated to campus.