Move-in and COVID-19 testing updates

Friday, July 31, 2020

Please note, this information is the most up-to-date as of July 31, 2020. Updates to the mtholyoke.edu, Campus Updates, and Opening the Gates sections are in process.

Travel to Campus

Massachusetts travel guidelines were updated recently. Please review the guidelines carefully and  in their entirety, and note that there are exemptions that may assist students and their families in planning.

As of August 1, the state requires:

  • Completion of the Massachusetts Travel Form prior to arrival, unless visiting from a lower-risk state designated by the Department of Public Health.
  • Quarantine for 14 days or a negative COVID-19 test result that has been administered up to 72 hours prior to arrival in Massachusetts. If documentation of a negative COVID-19 test result cannot be produced, all state residents and visitors must quarantine.

In addition, students are asked to follow the state’s Safer-at-Home protocols for two weeks prior to arrival, if at all possible, in order to reduce risk of exposure to COVID-19. Students should also make all travel arrangements with the intent of minimizing exposure prior to coming to campus.

To address the updated state requirements,  we must make adjustments to our move-in and start-of-school plan:

  • Upon arrival to campus, students will be screened with a symptoms checklist, temperature check and given a COVID-19 test at no charge. No student will be permitted to move into their residence hall prior to receiving their test.
  • All students must quarantine in their assigned residence hall until a negative result is obtained. We anticipate this to be within 24–48 hours. No exemptions from this initial test will be awarded, regardless of where a student spent the previous two weeks and regardless of whether they have had a negative test within 72 hours prior to arrival. 

Meals will be delivered to student living quarters from August 14–24 and students may not leave the residence hall until their negative test results have been confirmed. Please note that delivered meals will likely be cold items, such as salads and sandwiches. Food allergies will be accommodated. Students will also have access to off-campus, food delivery options at their own expense, as they would normally.

  • No parents or guests will be allowed in the residence halls at any time, including during move-in. Individuals accompanying students to campus for drop-off will be permitted in designated outdoor areas only and must depart campus prior to the two-hour move-in maximum window for each student. The College will have some assistance available for students who require help with their belongings in buildings without elevators. However, that assistance will be limited, as we aim to mitigate exposure and observe physical distancing requirements.
  • All students will be required to remain on campus for the first 14 days following arrival. Once a student receives their first negative test result they can leave their residence hall, as long as they remain on campus. A full list of on-campus resources will be provided to students at move-in.
  • Students will each be assigned bathrooms and particular fixtures that they will share with a small group of students for the semester. Students should only use their assigned fixtures when using the restrooms, and wear face coverings when in the space, except when washing their face or brushing their teeth. 
  • All classes will be held remotely the first week in order to support the move-in testing regimen and start-of-school campus quarantine effort. 

We recognize some of this information is new or different from what was previously communicated, however Mount Holyoke College and every member of the community must comply with state requirements as they evolve.

Move-In Reservations 

Students will make reservations to move in on one of three dates: Tuesday, August 18; Thursday, August 20; or Saturday, August 22. They can choose times between the hours of 8 am and 6 pm. ET. New students are asked to arrive on August 18 or 20 and returning students on August 20 or 22.  

Students can make their move-in reservation beginning August 1 via Embark, our student engagement platform. Some students have already submitted a form telling us when they thought they would arrive; this information was foundational for planning and we thank them. Even if they have completed that form, however, they still need to sign up for an official time through Embark. For assistance accessing Embark, please email Residential Life at res-life@mtholyoke.edu.

Students who are unable to reserve the day and time that is best for their travel situation should note that in Embark and we will do our best to accommodate them. We strongly encourage everyone to arrive during our planned move-in hours. Students who have unavoidable delays on their assigned move-in day and arrive after hours should contact Public Safety and Service to create a plan with the professional staff member on call.

Move-In Logistics

  • We request that students pack lightly and bring no more than two suitcases or boxes, a fan and backpack. Note: For health and safety reasons there will be no storage in the residence halls for luggage or other items during the semester — all belongings must remain in the student’s room. Should a student need to depart campus prior to November move-out, they should plan to bring all of their belongings with them or make storage or shipping arrangements at their own expense.
  • Students should plan to pick up packages at Auxiliary Services through outdoor curbside pick-up services. Large, heavy and oversized items will be delivered to residence halls.
  • In order to expedite package and mail deliveries, students should use their full residence hall addresses: 

First and Last Name
Residence Hall Name and Room
50 College Street, Box #
South Hadley, MA 01075

  • Students arriving by car should arrive at the Kendall Sports & Dance Complex parking area no later than 15 minutes prior to assigned check-in and wait inside their vehicle until their designated move-in time. At the appointed time, vehicles will be directed to parking near the testing and check-in area. At the appointed time, only the student should leave the vehicle and report to the check-in welcome area. 
  • Following check-in, students will be directed to the testing center. After the test is administered, they will receive their room key, and be instructed to return to their vehicle and depart for their residence hall. Reminder: Once students have completed their move-in, they may not leave their residence hall until they have received a negative test result (anticipated to be within 24–48 hours).
  • Students arriving by taxi, shuttle or on foot should proceed at the assigned time to Reese Hall for check-in. Guests — no more than two — will need to remain outside, away from the check-in and testing location, and follow all campus protocols regarding face coverings and physical distancing.
  • Students will not be able to start the check-in process until their move-in time starts. Please note: The two-hour window is the time for check-in, testing, and moving into the residence hall. Students are asked to be prompt. 

Covid-19 Testing for Residential Students

Mount Holyoke’s top priority is the health and safety of our students and our entire community. As such, the College has designed an asymptomatic testing program for all students living on campus during the fall semester. Designated faculty and staff will also be taking part in this program to ensure that all required community members undergo regular testing.

Here is how the program will work:

  • As part of residential student move-in days, students will be directed to the testing center for a review of COVID-19 symptoms and a temperature check by a campus clinician, as well as an asymptomatic nasal swab test. These are the shorter, less invasive swabs.
  • Assuming no unforeseen interruptions, students should receive results of their tests within 24–48 hours.
  • Following move-in, all residential students will participate in mandatory twice-weekly testing.
  • Students will use an online scheduling system to choose their preferred time slots for testing throughout the week.
  • As an added layer of precaution, students living in the same residence hall may be grouped together so they are all tested on the same days.
  • The Mount Holyoke testing center is specifically designed for asymptomatic testing. Students experiencing any symptoms will be directed to the on-campus Health Center.

What happens after each test?

  • Each day, all tests are delivered to a clinical testing laboratory at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard in Cambridge for processing. This laboratory operates under a set of government regulations known as CLIA (Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments)  that allow them to run high-complexity molecular tests.
  • Students will have an account in a system called CareEvolve, where they will be able to review their twice-weekly test results. An email notification will also go out to the student as soon as the lab posts its results.
  • If a student receives a positive test result, they will be contacted by the Mount Holyoke College Health Center and walked through the next steps, which will include isolation and contact tracing.

Upcoming communication will provide students with additional information regarding digitally signing consent-to-test forms via the my.mtholyoke.edu portal, access to our Embark platform for test schedule selection, and access to CareEvolve accounts for test results.