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Academic classes moved online

UMass Medical School Communications

March 11, 2020

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker has declared a state of emergency to allow for greater flexibility and resources to support the commonwealth’s efforts to mitigate the spread of the novel coronavirus known as COVID-19. At this time, the declaration applies only to executive branch employees, and not specifically to the University of Massachusetts and other state entities; however, the University of Massachusetts president, along with chancellors of the five campuses, are implementing new precautions today, which you may read about in the attached memo.

Our campuses and business units remain open and healthy staff should continue to come to work. The measures that we are taking at UMMS represent our contribution to public health efforts to slow the community spread of the virus. These are in keeping with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations for institutions of higher education in areas where community spread of the virus has been observed.

Please carefully review the following important steps that UMass Medical School, specifically, is implementing.

Teaching and Learning

  • Beginning tomorrow, March 12, academic classes in the School of Medicine, Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences and Graduate School of Nursing will be conducted virtually until at least Friday, April 3.
  • Our laboratories remain open. Those working in labs should practice good hygiene and social distancing.
  • Since Monday, medical and nursing students have been explicitly excluded from direct clinical care of patients with known or suspected cases of COVID-19. This guidance is consistent with recent recommendations from the Association of American Medical Colleges. Students have also been pulled from service under supervision in the Worcester Free Clinics. These decisions are made with the best interests of our learners in mind, and due to the limited supply of personal protective equipment available at this time.

Match Day

  • Match Day will not be held in the customary manner this year. We are developing an alternative plan to distribute match results and celebrate the event virtually. While this is a prudent decision, we understand that any departure from our usual celebration is disappointing. Additional information will be forthcoming, and we ask members of the SOM Class of 2020 to please inform your loved ones who might have been planning to attend that they should not come to campus on Match Day. If any Match Day celebration occurs, it will be live streamed on or on

Upcoming events & meetings

  • For at least the next 30 days, attendance by students, faculty or staff at all off-site work events that include more than 50 participants is prohibited. Virtual participation is allowed.
  • Conferences, meetings or other events with more than 50 participants that are scheduled to be held at UMMS during this time are to be held virtually, postponed or canceled.
  • Regular business meetings with fewer than 50 participants should proceed as usual. 

Business continuity

  • Managers should be actively planning for the possibility that staff and colleagues may be out of work due to a travel-related quarantine, illness, or the need to care for a loved one who is ill. Relevant UMMS human resources policies are found at this link.


Your personal health

  • As we have previously advised, if you are experiencing symptoms of a respiratory or other illness, stay home.
  • If you have a health condition that puts you at high risk or if you have unique circumstances (direct care of a family member who is immunosuppressed or elderly), please avoid large gatherings and consult with your health care provider, Student or Employee Health Services and your supervisor to discuss further precautions that may be prudent.
  • For faculty and learners engaged in the patient care environment, it is incumbent upon you to adhere to the policies of the clinical partner organization or site at which you are working.
  • Finally, a reminder to wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Using alcohol-based hand sanitizers, covering coughs and sneezes, avoiding close contact with those who are sick, getting a flu shot if you have not already done so, and disinfecting objects and surfaces will all help to reduce the risk of transmitting a range of viruses.

Extra cleaning is taking place daily in public areas of our campus; and additional hand sanitizer stations are being added this week and next.

Again, the purpose of these measures is to do our part to slow the spread of the virus and does not imply a significant health risk. Our administration and emergency preparedness teams continue to work around the clock to ensure the health and safety our community, and guidance will be updated as events warrant. We ask that you stay calm and informed, and follow the reasonable precautions that are in place. The latest updates to the UMMS community remain at this link, accessible via a button on