UMASS Bans Students From Getting Outdoor Exercise During Lockdown

You want to hear something crazy? There are college students at UMASS-Amherst who are paying to attend the university, live in the dorms and they're being banned from going outside to get exercise -- or just go for a basic walk -- as the campus is under a lockdown that went into effect Sunday and will last two weeks.

UMASS is calling on students to "self sequester" over the next two weeks and has outlined exactly what that means. In a letter from Chancellor Kumble R. Subbaswamy, students were told, "Self-sequestration means that students must stay in their residences, both on and off campus, except to get meals, undergo twice-weekly COVID testing, or to attend medical appointments. In addition, to minimize potential spread, students should refrain from travel from campus or outside the surrounding area. Failure to comply with these directives is a violation of the Code of Student Conduct and will result in disciplinary action, which may include removal from residence halls and/or suspension."

Under the FAQs (that were updated Tuesday) relating to "self sequester," the topic of going for a walk is addressed and should come as a shock. "In the current high-risk operational posture, students are required to self-sequester. This precludes leaving your residence hall for a walk. To get appropriate exercise, please view approved activities such as accessing food and participating in twice-weekly COVID testing at the Mullins Center as opportunities to take walks to support your health."

That's right, UMASS is advising students to get their walks in by walking to go get a COVID test. Going for a walk at another time could mean being kicked out of the dorms and a possible suspension from the school.

As for students who have jobs, UMASS seems to suggest that students not show up for work. "A directive to self-sequester has been activated, at the encouragement of state public health officials, to help mitigate the spread of the COVID-19 virus and we expect everyone’s cooperation. We also understand that the directive to self-sequester may present financial hardship for students who rely on income from their employment. As a result, we have set up an Employment Assistance Grant program to support students in need."

And there's more bad news. UMASS says one person per elevator in the dorms. Seriously.

As of Thursday, the school had 585 active COVID cases and a 7-day positivity rate of 2.26%. Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health says right on its website that the threshold for a "too high" positivity rate is 5%. The World Health Organization has said that a positive percentage should be below 5% for two weeks "before governments consider reopening. If we are successful in bringing coronavirus transmission under control, this threshold might be lowered over time."

Meanwhile, at UMASS, the school is sitting at 2.26%, and students are being threatened with being kicked out of the dorms if they go for a walk that isn't to go get a COVID test.

What do the experts think of the UMASS plan? They think it's nuts. Julia Marcus, an epidemiologist and associate professor at Harvard Medical School, told that restricting students from going for basic walks is "misguided."

“The vast majority of transmission occurs indoors with close, prolonged contact, and policies should be designed accordingly,” she said. “This policy seems to be based on what’s easiest to enforce, not based on actual risk or public health impacts.”

In other words, UMASS is out of its damn mind.

Written by
Joe Kinsey is the Senior Director of Content of OutKick and the editor of the Morning Screencaps column that examines a variety of stories taking place in real America. Kinsey is also the founder of OutKick’s Thursday Night Mowing League, America’s largest virtual mowing league. Kinsey graduated from University of Toledo.