Most Five College Consortium students will not return from spring break

Officials respond to COVID-19 outbreak

(Collegian file photo)

(Collegian file photo)

By Kathrine Esten, Assistant News Editor

The Five College Consortium in western Massachusetts will be fully transitioned to remote learning until further notice after the spring break.

Ed Wingenbach, the president of Hampshire College, informed the community on March 11 that the College would “temporarily adopt remote instruction” to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and “allow time to assess whether students can return to campus in April.”

The announcement comes after Amherst College, Smith College, Mount Holyoke College and the University of Massachusetts cancelled in-person classes until further notice.

“In our planning we are prioritizing the health and safety of Hampshire College, our students and the broader community,” Wingenbach wrote in the email. Noting Hampshire College’s unique educational model, Wingenback added, “We are also committed to supporting the academic welfare of our students.”

Classes at Hampshire will meet in person through Friday, March 13. By Sunday, March 22, students will leave campus housing “until further notice.” Beginning on March 23, Hampshire College will be delivered remotely through April 3.

“We will evaluate the situation and determine by April 1 whether remote instruction needs to be extended, and whether students may return to campus,” the email stated.

International students and students with extenuating circumstances – those unable to make alternate housing arrangements and Division III students unable to complete projects without access to campus resources – will be allowed to remain on campus during the remote learning period.

Students approved to stay on campus beyond March 22 will be expected to stay in campus housing during spring break, but are not required to. Those who do travel will be required to provide Hampshire College with all details of their travel. “Depending on their itinerary, these students may be required to self-quarantine for 14 days.”

Amherst College, the first to announce the transition, canceled courses on Thursday, March 12 and Friday, March 13. Amherst College stated that the “duration of this disruption is unclear.”

Mount Holyoke and Smith College both extended spring recess to March 29 and plan to begin remote learning on March 30.

While UMass and Hampshire both plan to reassess by April 1, Mount Holyoke’s announcement stated that “students should not expect to live on campus for the remainder of this semester.” Smith made a similar statement: “Students should not expect to return this semester.”

“I hope we can work through this challenge together in that spirit,” Wigenbach wrote. “Our ability to enact this plan relies on everyone’s willingness to participate in good faith.”

Kathrine Esten can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter at @KathrineEsten.