Campus pandemic updates

A photo montage of the Five College campuses

The campuses of the Five College Consortium have been planning for the fall semester -- individually and together -- since before the spring semester ended. Two of our campuses, Amherst and Hampshirehave developed their own plans for reopening their campuses in the fall, often in collaboration with local business and community leaders. Smith and Mount Holyoke have decided to only offer their courses remotely. At both institutions, a small number of students will be living on campus because of specific circumstances. At UMass, only those courses that require in-person instruction will be taught on campus, with all other courses only available remotely. Only those UMass students taking courses requiring in-person instruction will be allowed to live on campus.

On this page you'll find regular updates on a the following issues related to our campuses' response to the pandemic. 

Student arrival dates, expected population

From non-exempt states: August 15--August 20
From exempt states: August 19--August 22
Expected number of students on campus: approx. 900

New students:  August 20
Continuing students: August 22--23.
Expected number of students on campus: approx. 550

Mount Holyoke:
All instruction will be remote for the fall semester.
Expected number of students on campus: approx. 200

All instruction will be remote for the fall semester.
Expected number of students on campus: approx. 100

Students in courses requring in-person instruction: August 15--23
No other students will be allowed on campus. 
Expected number of students on campus: approx. 1,100

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.  TOP

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. TOP

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 below regimens. In addition, faculty and staff who will be working on campus will also be regularly tested. 

Amherst: twice weekly

Hampshire: every two weeks

Mount Holyoke: twice weekly

Smith: twice weekly

UMass: twice weekly for students living on campus or accessing campus

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. TOP

COVID Dashboards

Amherst College 
Hampshire College
Smith College
UMass Amherst
Cooley Dickinson Hospital
State of Massachusetts

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: All classes will be taught remotely, and will begin on August 24. Only a very small number of students will be on campus for the fall semester. 

Smith College: All classes will be taught remotely, and will begin on September 1. Only a very small number of students will be on campus for the fall semester. 

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. TOP

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. TOP

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. TOP

Childcare Resources

Five Colleges is working with our campuses to identify childcare resources for parents in our community. Please return to this page regularly for updates.
In the meantime, has made available a resource guide to help parents and caregivers manage many of the new scenarios, including how to find a tutor or private school teacher, planning for school safety, balancing work and family life, and more. 
Campus resources: Amherst College

 Updated August 20, 2020.