Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Smith College joins Amherst College in moving to remote learning

UMass, Hampshire and Mount Holyoke plan to return after break
(Collegian file photo)

After Amherst College announced on Monday that it would be moving to remote learning after the spring break, Smith College followed suit. Other local colleges, including Mount Holyoke College, Hampshire College and the University of Massachusetts plan to return after the spring recess, which starts on March 13.

President Kathleen McCartney of Smith College sent an email to students on Tuesday afternoon informing them that in-person classes would be offered on campus until Friday, March 13. Spring recess, which was scheduled to end on March 22, has been extended to March 29.

“Alternate modes of instruction will be offered for the curriculum, beginning on March 30. Students will receive more information in the coming days,” the email reads.

Smith College students must move out of their on-campus housing by March 20, at the latest. “Students should not expect to return this semester. Students in study-abroad and study-away programs will remain in place.” Only students with extenuating circumstances, including those from countries with travel restrictions, will be provided with room and board.

“I know that these actions are extremely disruptive for all of us,” McCartney said. “However, we have a duty to protect and care for the most vulnerable among us – those students, staff and faculty on the CDC’s list of those who are at a higher risk of developing complications from COVID-19.

Before the announcement was made, Smith College Director of Media Relations Stacey Schmeidel said on Tuesday morning: “In terms of our response to what Amherst is doing, I can tell you we have an incident response team is working on this.”

The spring recess – and the chance of students traveling, returning to campus and spreading COVID-19 –  pushed colleges to adjust their plans. At Amherst College, officials determined that the “risk of having hundreds of people return from their travels to the campus is too great.”

Unlike Smith, Amherst cancelled classes on March 12 and 13. Students at Amherst College are expected to leave campus by March 16. Students are able to petition and remain on the campus for the spring recess and the remainder of the semester, according to the March 9 statement.

“Because the duration of this disruption is unclear, we encourage students to take as many of their belongings as possible, particularly the items and materials they need to continue their studies remotely after the break,” President Biddy Martin stated.

At the other three colleges in the Five College Consortium, officials continue planning for many possible scenarios.

On March 9, UMass Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy sent an update to the campus community informing them that the risk of contracting COVID-19 remains low but the campus is engaged in “extensive planning and preparation to ensure the health and wellbeing of our students, faculty and staff.”

Campus operations will be ongoing without interruption, according to the chancellor. “Campus decisions related to this rapidly evolving situation are made in this context and may differ in some cases from those other institutions, including Amherst College.”

Jeff Hescock, the director of emergency management, said on Friday that the Campus Response task force is considering plans in response to past outbreaks on the campus, including meningitis.

“Our strength as a University is honestly the people,” Hescock said, mentioning the cooperation of many parts of campus in adapting to planning. He added that guidance is “evolving every day on this.”

Hescock emphasized that the best thing for community members to do is protect themselves, visit the University’s website for information and take care of their personal hygiene.

“It’s tough to predict what will happen next week and the week after that,” Hescock said. “Our task force has been preparing our campus for different scenarios.”

In a statement released on March 9, Mount Holyoke College suspended all international travel, regardless of destination, until May 5. Non-essential domestic travel more than 100 miles away from the campus was also suspended. At this time, athletic competitions are exempt from this restriction.

Mount Holyoke students were discouraged from traveling during the spring break and all residence halls and dining commons will remain open to residential students.

“We have an emergency response team that has been activated,” Christian Feuerstein, the director of news and media relations in Mount Holyoke College’s communications office, said. Given the nature of the outbreak, Feuerstein said the the team is meeting frequently to create plans for the campus.

Ina March 10 update, Hampshire College President Ed Wingenbach stated that the College’s COVID-19 Response Team is meeting daily to “address a dynamic and rapidly evolving global situation and the implications for our campus community and the community at large.”

Hampshire College has prepared “for the possibility of a disruption to courses and academic programs on campus” but has not moved to remote learning at this time.

“We have asked faculty to plan to adjust syllabi and expectations for course completion if we have to suspend face-to-face teaching and learning, and the College is providing support for that planning. We are committed to supporting our students as they complete their academic work this semester,” the press release states.

“Students, I know that many of you will be disappointed to leave a place that many of you call home; my heart breaks especially for the seniors,” McCartney said in her email. “We will do our best to support your studies while we will seek ways to support virtual connections with one another and this campus.”

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

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All Massachusetts Daily Collegian Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *