News and Commentary

UMass Amherst Students Suspended For Maskless Outdoor Photo
AMHERST - JANUARY 29: Lincoln Apartments and the Campus Center Hotel, pictured, are locations on the the UMass Amherst campus in Amherst, MA on Jan. 29, 2021. Students who have had exposure to COVID-19 live in these apartments during quarantine. Many go to the Campus Center Hotel, while other students as well as everyone who tests positive for the virus, are sent to Lincoln Apartments.
Jonathan Wiggs/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Three freshmen at the University of Massachusetts Amherst were suspended after the university received a picture of the trio outside without masks. 

The three girls were asked to study virtually and at home following their suspension, according to a local CBS News affiliate. Last week, parents said that their daughters were cut off from the virtual learning facility, making the semester a complete wash both financially and academically. 

The University of Massachusetts Amherst charges $18,213.50 per semester for out-of-state tuition and $8,219.50 per semester for in-state tuition. 

The picture appears to have been taken on St. Patrick’s Day before the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated its guidance that vaccinated people can remove masks outdoors


Parents told the local CBS station that one of the girls was the valedictorian and class president of her high school. 

“She did everything right,” the parents claimed. 

In a statement to CBS, the university said that students were aware of masking rules and the consequences of ignoring them.  

“Students received a number of public health messages this semester that emphasized the importance of following public health protocols and the consequences for not comply, and those messages were also shared on UMass social media channels,” a university spokesperson said.  

One of the three families intends on suing the university over their daughter’s suspension. 

The photo was likely sent in by a peer. Students at college campuses across the country are encouraged to inform the university about large gatherings or maskless peers. Under most university conduct codes, students who were caught hosting or attending events during the coronavirus pandemic were subject to fines or suspension from the university. 

Universities across the country have taken extreme measures to shield college students and faculty from the coronavirus. Some schools have imposed fines for students who fail to properly mask, while others have instituted mandatory vaccination for students wishing to return to campus. 

St. Joseph’s College in Standish, Maine, issues $50 tickets to students who fail to wear a facemask while on campus property. The school has issued more than 20 tickets to students thus far.

Many schools are making a return to campus contingent on vaccination for nearly all students and staff. Rutgers University in New Jersey was the first school in the nation to announce plans for mandatory vaccination. Leadership at Cornell University announced soon after that students and staff must be vaccinated to return to campus in the fall. 

Notre Dame announced that it will require all students — undergraduate, graduate, and professional — to be fully vaccinated as a condition of enrollment for the upcoming school year. 

Exemptions are given to those with medical and religious reasons at all three schools. Per CDC guidance, fully vaccinated students will still be required to socially distance and wear masks in the classroom. 

Related: Santa Clara University Encourages Students To Snitch On Party-Going Peers

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