University News

Western New England University Details Reopening Plans for Fall

Published: July 02, 2020 | Categories: Pharmacy and Health Sciences, All News, Business, Law, Engineering, Arts and Sciences
Students flying kites.

Western New England University has reaffirmed its commitment to resume on campus instruction for the fall semester, preparing to welcome back students while implementing a wide array of health and safety protocols to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.

University President Anthony S. Caprio notified students of the institution's plans in an email July 2, detailing the University's advantage of having both the space and small classes so that the vast majority of undergraduate, graduate, and professional classes will be offered fully on-campus this fall. A small number of courses will be delivered in a hybrid or online format.

"We value the health and safety of our students, faculty, and staff above all else, and we value providing an education that is true to our mission, one that has an unwavering focus on each student's academic and personal development, inside and outside the classroom," wrote Caprio.

While the University plans to offer a full set of student activities and academic support services, the campus students return to will look different from the one they left in March, when the threat from COVID-19 forced Western New England and scores of other institutions to move classes entirely online.

Students will be required to wear a mask or face shield, practice social distancing, and maintain a high standard of hygiene. "The most profound give given to us as human beings is our ability to show care and concern for one another," noted Caprio. "These actions give each of us an opportunity to protect each other."

In addition, plexiglass barriers will be installed throughout campus, including classrooms. Most buildings will be one-directional to minimize hallway contact, with classroom capacity reduced to encourage social distancing and additional spaces identified to host classes. Buildings will be cleaned more frequently, and residence halls will be limited to single and double rooming options, with roommates being treated as a "family unit." Campus dining facilities will be open and abide state regulations for restaurants in place at the time students return to campus.

"Western New England is fortunate to have one of the finest Health Services Departments," said Caprio. The University will offer COVID-19 testing, including antibody testing, through Health Services and will make service available by phone to students and employees when the office is physically closed during evenings, weekends, and holidays.

Those testing positive will be relocated to campus housing set aside for isolation and will be cared for physically and emotionally. Criteria for testing are still being worked out, in accordance with recently released guidance from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Western New England will also implement contact tracing in conjunction with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.

Fall semester undergraduate classes will begin as scheduled Monday, August 31 and continue through Friday, December 11. While the intention is to offer on-campus instruction throughout the fall semester, the University is preparing for multiple potential scenarios, including the need to transition to online instruction should conditions require such a move.

The University has implemented a dedicated helpline to answer questions related to its reopening plans. Students are invited to call 413-782-1321 Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Given the uncertainty created by the COVID-19 pandemic, Western New England University continues to accept first year and transfer applications and award merit scholarships for the fall semester through August 15. Prospective students should visit for more information.