Seven UMass students test positive for Covid after rink incident
Seven UMass Dartmouth commuter students living in New Bedford have tested positive for Covid-19 this week after renting ice time at the city’s Hetland Arena rink to practice hockey on their own, according to university officials.
The students represent a new case cluster that accounts for 4% of New Bedford’s 181 total positive cases over the past two weeks, Acting Chancellor of UMass Dartmouth Mark Preble wrote in a letter to the university community.
Preble also noted that the students had rented the time at the rink for “non-university affiliated use,” and are currently in quarantine, isolating and working with University Health Services staff as well as New Bedford and Dartmouth Health Departments for contact tracing.
UMass Dartmouth Director of Athletic Communications Jim Seavey confirmed that at least some of the covid-positive students in the new case cluster are hockey players for the university, although he could not say for sure if all seven are on the team.
“They’re all commuter students who reside in New Bedford in three different households,” he stated.
What is clear, he added, is that practicing at the rink together “was a non-affiliated, non sanctioned event. It was something the kids did on their own.”
“We haven’t engaged in any team practices or conditioning activities since the start of the fall semester,” Seavey noted, adding that “The university is continuing to adhere to all protocols and guidelines” from the CDC as well as state and municipal health departments.
“We’ve been educating our student-athletes on this from back in March,” he said. “The students are quarantining in isolation, and we’re continuing to monitor everything.”
All fall and winter sport competitions at UMass Dartmouth have been suspended until Dec. 31.
Seavey noted that the university athletics department hopes to begin competitions from January 1, 2021, depending on what the pandemic looks like.
“During this pandemic, everyone must remain vigilant about what they must do to keep each other safe,” Preble wrote in the letter, going on to thank the university’s health services staff for catching the initial case and preventing further spread within the community. “While I am grateful for that fact, there will continue to be positive cases within our student population.”
“While some aspects of life are slowly creeping back to normal, we cannot let our guard down against Covid-19,” he added.
All students at UMass Dartmouth must be tested for Covid-19, and Preble encouraged all faculty and staff to get tested as well.
It is unclear how many of the seven students were included in the previously published Covid-19 numbers for the university, which reported six new cases in the week ending Sept. 24.