Parties at Nichols College, UMass Amherst Spark COVID Concerns

Schools across Massachusetts are worried about the dangerous consequences of large student gatherings

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Police and college safety officers in Dudley, Massachusetts broke up a large off-campus party near Nichols College Saturday night, prompting worries about the spread of COVID-19. 

Dudley Police Chief Steven Wojnar said there were “between 50 and 100 kids” at the party, the Worcester Telegram & Gazette reported Wednesday. Police discovered the gathering when they accompanied the fire department as they responded to a fire alarm. 

College students' return to Boston has long prompted fears of coronavirus spikes. Reports of parties at schools in the region have left some city leaders are questioning whether students will follow rules.

P.J. Boggio, the vice president of student affairs at Nichols, warned in a letter to students that any uptick in positive cases at the school could spell an end to the semester in a letter to students. 

"Nichols College would seriously have to consider closing our campus and sending everyone home. No in-person classes. No senior events. No activities. No athletics. No networking opportunities,” the letter, obtained by the Telegram, said. 

A school spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment from the newspaper. It is unclear what, if any, punishment the students will face.

Gov. Charlie Baker announces that anyone who accompanies 75 and older residents to their vaccine appointment is also eligible to get the vaccine. This goes into effect on Thursday.

Other Massachusetts universities are also cracking down on large parties during the pandemic. 

A fraternity at the University of Massachusetts Amherst has been put on interim suspension while the school investigates reports that it hosted two large parties that violated regulations meant to control the spread of the coronavirus.

The state’s flagship public university last weekend moved to all-remote learning and told students to stay in their residences for two weeks, except for essential reasons, following hundreds of confirmed cases on campus.

The student newspaper, the Massachusetts Daily Collegian, reported that Theta Chi held two parties on the weekend of Jan. 29-30, just before the start of the semester, but after thousands of students had returned to campus.

Representatives of the fraternity denied hosting parties.

Theta Chi has been ordered to cease all chapter-related functions pending an investigation by the Student Conduct and Community Standards Office, university spokesperson Ed Blaguszewski said in a statement.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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