Overview of campus fall semester plans

The campuses of the Five College Consortium have been planning--individually and together--for the fall semester since before the spring semester ended. Four of our campuses--Amherst, Hampshire, Mount Holyoke Colleges, and UMass Amherst--have developed their own plans for reopening their campuses in the fall, often in collaboration with local business and community leaders. At UMass, the only students allowed to live on campus will be those in courses requiring face-to-face instruction. Smith has decided to not have students on campus during the fall semester, and all of its courses will be taught remotely. This overview touches on some of the main points of campus plans, and it will be updated regularly.  Updated August 7, 2020. 

Students arriving on campus 

From non-exempt states: August 15--August 20
From exempt states: August 19--August 22

New students:  August 20
Continuing students: August 22--23.

Mount Holyoke:
New students: August 18--20.
Returning students: August 20--22.

No students will be on campus for the fall semester. 

Students in courses requring in-person instruction: August 15--23
No other students will be allowed on campus. 

Health and safety 

Students, and everyone on campus, will be required to wear face masks and maintain social distancing on our campuses and in our communities. In-person courses will limit students to allow for social distancing in the classroom. Many courses in the fall will be taught outside. Health guidelines and rules on such things as hand washing will be widely distributed. 

Student behavior

Each campus will have students sign an agreement to maintain proper health and safety protocols on campus and in our communities. Those who don’t will face a range of disciplinary actions that include suspension.

Testing, tracing, quarantining

Testing and quarantining: All students returning to campus will be tested upon arrival, with the expectation that they will then self-quarantine for up to two weeks (unless the state allows those who test negative to be cleared from quarantine). Students will then be regularly tested throughout the fall semester, within the following regimens

Amherst: twice weekly

Hampshire: every two weeks

Mount Holyoke: twice weekly

UMass: once a week

Students living on campus who test positive will be isolated on campus with meals and other necessities brought to them, and staff monitoring their health. On-campus students who have come in contact with students who test positive will be quarantined on campus. All five campuses have identified housing for isolating and quarantining all on-campus students.

Contact tracing: The health services directors from the five campuses are meeting weekly to discuss shared training, mutual support and other collaborations in support of contact tracing--determining who may have come in contact with people who have tested positive, and being sure those people quarantine themselves. 

Plans for the academic year 

Amherst: Fall term begins on Aug. 24, students will not return after Thanksgiving break. Finals will be remote. No more than 1,200 to 1,250 students will be allowed on campus in the fall, with priority given to first-year students, transfers, sophomores, seniors graduating in the fall, and seniors returning from study abroad. Most classes will be accessible both in person and remotely, and all classes of 35 or more will take place remotely.

Hampshire: New students will arrive on August 20, and returning students on August 22 and 23. Classes will begin on August 25 and end on November 20, with no fall break. Most courses will be taught as in-person/remote hybrids and, if necessary, taught remotely.

Mount Holyoke: Classes will begin on August 24 and conclude on November 25, with final exams conducted remotely. During fall semester, new students and sophomores will be on campus, with juniors and seniors taking courses remotely. In the spring semester junior and seniors will be on campus, with new students and sophomores engaging remotely.

Smith College: No students will be on campus for the fall semester. All classes will be taught remotely, and will begin on September 1.

UMass: Classes will start on August 24 and conclude on November 20, with finals conducted remotely. The vast majority of classes will be taught remotely, and only those students in courses requiring in-person instruction will be allowed to live in the dorms or enter campus facilities. 

Examples of campuses collaborating

A wide variety of administrators from the five campuses are meeting regularly to share information and planning ideas. The presidents and chancellor meet weekly, as do the provosts, health services directors, and representatives of each campus’s COVID-19 response team. Representatives from the five campuses, as well as Greenfield Community College and Holyoke Community College, meet every few weeks with their state legislative delegation. Representatives from the five campuses have begun meeting with business leaders from South Hadley, Amherst, Hadley and Northampton. 

Cooley Dickinson Hospital capacity

Representatives of our campuses and Cooley Dickinson Hospital at many levels have met this summer, including a meeting of our presidents and chancellor with the hospital’s CEO and chief medical officer. Cooley Dickinson reports that it has run a wide variety of models to test its capacity to handle a surge in COVID-19 cases, including models in which it has 50 percent more cases that it had during the spring surge. As a result, hospital staff are confident that they are well prepared for the return of students. Hospital and campus representatives will continue regular communication.