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MCLA to Go Fully Remote After Cluster Caused by 'Social Activity'

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NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts is converting all of its classes to remote learning starting Monday, April 5, and closing its residence halls effective Sunday, April 11.
President James Birge announced the decision to the campus community on Thursday morning, citing a national increase in COVID-19 cases that "has been mirrored across the state and in our local community."
Birge specifically mentioned the outbreak on the MCLA campus that prompted a stay-in-place order for residents in its Flagg Townhouses residence halls.
Since March 22, MCLA has identified 28 students who have tested positive for COVID-19, for a 3.6 percent positivity rate among its student population.
"The impact in our residence areas is acute," Birge wrote. "6.1 percent of our resident students are now COVID-19 positive, and 18 percent are in ... isolation or quarantine protocols."
Birge emphasized that there is no evidence that classroom instruction caused the cluster.
Birge blamed student behavior and violations of the agreements they signed before returning to campus for prompting the decision to go fully remote.
"The increase in cases and spread of the virus is directly related to social activity on and off campus," Birge wrote. "It is evident the Trailblazer Agreement was not observed and investigations are underway to hold all persons in violation responsible."
All instruction will be delivered remotely starting Monday and through the remainder of the spring semester.
The college will continue to operate a COVID-19 testing site in its Campus Center Gym from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. through April 9 to provide tests for students who desire it.
"Please know, that although this news comes as a disappointment, I am proud of the work that this community has done in order to stay safe during a year filled with unprecedented circumstances," Birge wrote. "For 13 months we have hunted down and tracked the virus successfully, and kept it at bay for longer than many other institutions. Overwhelmingly, our students and our community at large have complied with a set of health and safety regulations that we never had to anticipate."

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