Wow… this College’s new Covid restrictions are almost too insane to be real and sounds more like a prison than a school.
Students at Amherst College are about to face some of the toughest COVID restrictions in the country as they begin the Fall 2021 semester next month.
We’re not sure what’s more concerning… the fact that Colleges across the United States are doing this to our children, or the fact that their PARENTS are spending $70,000+ per year to lock their own kids up while being treated like criminals.
The private liberal arts college, located in Amherst, Massachusetts, announced the tightened public health rules Tuesday in response to concerns about the spread of the Delta variant. For now, the restrictions will apply from move-in until September 13 (via The Amherst Student):
The restrictions include: indoor double-mask mandates, two Covid tests upon arrival, a bi-weekly testing requirement, limits on indoor gathering sizes, off-campus travel restrictions and an elimination of in-person dining services. Upon arrival, students will receive both a PCR test and a rapid antigen test. The college has decided that in accordance with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), anyone who has tested positive for Covid will be put into isolation for 10 days in either designated dorm rooms or at home for students and staff respectively. The college is not offering standard remote learning options this year, but class deans will assist quarantined students so that they will not fall behind on school work. ... Amherst will require all employees, faculty and students to wear face coverings while inside campus buildings — regardless of their vaccination status, according to an email sent from Martin on Aug. 16. The masking requirement was enhanced as of Aug. 24: all students must double-mask (wear two pleated filter masks on top of one another) if they are not wearing a KN95 mask in classrooms and other academic spaces operating at 100 percent capacity. Community members could originally unmask in their residence halls, but that is no longer the case. Masks are now required to be worn in residence hall common areas, until at least Sept. 13. Students may unmask in their own dorm rooms. Alternatively, when indoors and outside of their residence halls, unvaccinated students must be masked at all times unless they are alone with the door closed. If outdoors, unvaccinated students must wear face coverings when a six-foot distance cannot be maintained. All community members must mask up if they are attending a gathering of more than 25 people, regardless of the location on campus. ... Students will be permitted to visit the town of Amherst, masked when indoors, for the purpose of “conducting business” (i.e. opening bank accounts and picking up prescriptions). Students are not allowed to go to restaurants or bars. Events and sports competitions are slated to take place as scheduled. Spectators are allowed but must be masked. No pre or post-game tailgating or celebrations will be permitted. Large events will be minimized and there will be no registered parties indoors on the campus grounds. No events with alcohol will be permitted at the beginning of the semester.
The indoor mask mandate was already in place, but the updated restrictions have reportedly sparked a backlash from more than 250 students, who all signed an open letter asking school administrators to change the policy:
Tuesday’s e-mail with the updated COVID-19 guidelines was, for many students, disruptive, confusing, and frustrating. We are writing to you to reconsider both the outdoor mask mandate and the restrictions on town access. We furthermore require a nuanced, thorough response around all other guidelines by the Amherst administration via a follow up e-mail, town hall, or other means. As the email stands currently, the guidelines are not based on any given data, have been developed without student input, are significantly stricter than our peer institutions, and are in conflict with CDC guidelines.
The letter from the students also included a request to remove the outdoor mask mandate as well as the double-masking requirement, citing the CDC’s most recent guidance on the subject.
The most recent COVID-19 guidelines on the CDC website (dated August 19th, 2021), states that "current data suggest the risk of transmission of SARS-CoV-2 in outdoor settings is minimal. In general, fully vaccinated people do not need to wear a mask outdoors. Fully vaccinated people might choose to wear a mask in crowded outdoor settings if they or someone in their household is immunocompromised." This suggests that wearing a mask outside for vaccinated individuals is completely optional depending on their own comfort level and the size of the event. This New York Times article, entitled "A Misleading CDC Number," puts the rate of outdoor transmission at less than 0.1%, stating that "there is not a single documented COVID-19 infection anywhere in the world from causal outdoor interaction, such as walking past someone on the street or eating at a nearby table." As such, an outdoor mask mandate is essentially going against the science that we have observed about the transmission of COVID-19 so far. Additionally, in terms of indoor masking, the CDC discourages double masking with two disposable masks. This is in direct conflict to the bullet point in your email that suggested double disposable, pleated face masks. The CDC website specifically tells individuals NOT to do this very thing, saying that "disposable masks are not designed to fit tightly and wearing more than one will not improve fit."