UMass Dartmouth sees surge in Covid cases

Nov 23, 2020

UMass Dartmouth is reporting a surge in Covid cases as 32 community members tested positive for the virus in the week ending Nov. 19, up from just nine cases the week before.

According to data released Nov. 22, the positive cases represent just 2.38% of the more than 1,400 tests taken by the university’s students and staff last week — much lower than the 5.97% positive test rate reported by the community of Dartmouth as a whole.

UMass Dartmouth spokesperson Ryan Merrill noted that a majority of the cases were linked to a cluster, but were not tied to a single event.

“Through the University’s vigorous asymptomatic testing program, contact tracing efforts, isolation policy, and close coordination with local health agencies, we were able to minimize spread,” he stated, adding that the university has maintained “a safe and healthy campus.”

Earlier this autumn UMass Dartmouth announced plans to increase the number of in-person courses and students living on campus for the upcoming spring semester starting on Jan. 19.

In a letter written on Oct. 23, Acting Chancellor Mark Preble said that due to the “robust testing and contact tracing program,” officials believe that the university can “make incremental steps” toward having more students, faculty, and staff on campus come January.

Most students are currently taking classes remotely, although around 800 students are living on campus this semester, according to Merrill.

After Thanksgiving, all instruction and exams will be offered remotely.

Students residing in dorms, as well as those taking at least one in-person class, will be tested for Covid-19 once a week.

“All students who visit or reside on campus are required to be tested,” stated Merrill in September, noting that faculty and staff are also encouraged to get tests, which are provided on campus. 

Although Merrill declined to say how many of the Covid-positive students reside on campus, he stated that special rooms have been set aside for them to quarantine. Students who commute to class and test positive must quarantine at home. 

The university reports all positive coronavirus cases through a regularly updated dashboard available at