Holy Cross, Assumption University to Start Semester Remotely

The Worcester institutions are adopting an online-only start to the fall semester amid the coronavirus pandemic

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The College of the Holy Cross and Assumption University are opting for an exclusively online start to the semester as schools continue to grapple with educating in the era of a pandemic.

The College of the Holy Cross is changing its reopening plans for the fall to allow only a limited number of students on campus in Worcester, Massachusetts, citing recent developments including outbreaks and changes to the state's travel order.

Meanwhile, nearby Assumption University announced that classes will be offered online-only classes to start, but just for the first two weeks. In-person learning is set to resume at the end of the month, though officials noted that those plans are subject to change. Students will be required to self-quarantine for two weeks prior to returning to campus.

The decision from the colleges come as Massachusetts implements more stringent coronavirus restrictions and ramps up enforcement in a crackdown by Gov. Charlie Baker. Baker announced Friday he was pumping the brakes on the state's reopening plan in response to a recent uptick in cases.

The mandatory travel order, which went into effect Aug. 1, stipulates that all visitors and residents returning to the state from high-risk areas must either quarantine for 14 days or produce negative COVID-19 test results upon return into the state.

Rev. Philip Boroughs, President of the College of the Holy Cross, said that with potentially thousands of students returning to schools across the the area, they’ll need to do more testing - which would strain the institution's resources.

"The cons outweighed the pros for safety and the many unpredictables we've noticed all summer long," Boroughs said. "The concerns of what could happen next raised so many questions for us that it seemed more prudent at this point."

Students at Holy Cross who rely on campus housing and facilities, including international students, will need to fill out a form for an exception to live on campus.

The college is hosting town hall webinars this week to respond to questions and concerns.

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