Free World - September 15, 2021

Students and faculty are resuming fully in-person classes this fall in the colle…


Students and faculty are resuming fully in-person classes this fall in the college town of Amherst, Mass., fueling hopes that their return will bring a collective sigh relief to this rural part of western Massachusetts that depends heavily on its five colleges to drive the local economy. ⁠⁠
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University of Massachusetts Amherst, with a total student population of roughly 31,000, is expecting about 13,000 students to live on-campus this fall semester, the usual capacity, and is allowing spectators at athletic events, unlike last year. ⁠⁠
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Amherst College is expecting 2,000 students on-campus this semester, slightly above typical enrollment, and has relaxed its “bubble”—restrictions during the last school year that essentially confined students to the campus and prohibited most outside visitors.⁠⁠
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With that, local businesses are enjoying a boost. Occupancy at the family-run Pioneer Valley Hotel Group, which has five hotels in the region, was up last month between 50% and 60% from August 2020, according to its vice president. ⁠⁠
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Black Sheep, a 35-year-old deli and bakery in downtown Amherst, pictured in the second photo, saw foot traffic and the delivery portion of its business dry up with the colleges’ shift to virtual learning during the pandemic, owner Nick Seamon said. The dropoff forced him to close completely twice.⁠⁠
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A.J. Hastings, a general-merchandise and office-supply retailer near Amherst College, pictured in the third photo, is banking on this school year to help make up ground lost during the pandemic after revenue declined by 50% in 2020 compared with 2019, its general manager said. ⁠⁠
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Read more at the link in our bio.⁠⁠
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📷: @mscottbrauer for @wsjphotos



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