Dear students, parents, and families,
Yesterday, President Sonya Stephens shared changes to the College's campus housing plans for the fall semester. Please know this was a very difficult decision made only after thorough and careful consideration. The student life team and campus colleagues spent time yesterday and today connecting with students whose fall housing plans have been interrupted, including offering office hours this weekend. Today I am writing to all students with additional information in the form of an FAQ. This email is lengthy and contains answers to several important student questions; please read it carefully.
First, a few words about the student co-curricular experience in a remote environment. We have been planning for delivering virtual engaging community experiences all along! A Student Experience working group of students, faculty, and staff has been developing a framework, based on student feedback, for students to engage socially and in a wide variety of co-curricular experiences. Students can anticipate a number of things this fall, including but not limited to:
Community Hours. All co-curricular and social programming during the academic week will be scheduled during the same set of hours (6am to 8am EDT, 11:30am to 12:30pm EDT, 4:30pm to 6:30pm EDT, and 10pm to midnight EDT). We want students to be able to engage fully in the academic time blocks, and to know when to expect programming to occur.
Virtual Community M&Cs. All students will be invited to participate in virtual M&Cs on Thursdays at 7am EDT and/or 10pm EDT.
Events Calendar and Word Out! All student-focused online events will be shared in the College’s online events calendar and in our weekly “Word Out!” email. Programs will have built-in feedback mechanisms to encourage proactive student input on reimagining traditions and other campus-wide events.
A focus on topics and programming of particular importance to students. Events and activities will focus on student wellness and belonging, in alignment with our Be Well initiative and diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts. Reimagined community events and co-curricular offerings will aim to complement and bolster academic learning outcomes.
A reminder that our virtual orientation programming is available now for new students!
The following FAQs are intended to address initial questions resulting from the change in fall on-campus housing and are current as of this writing. Website FAQS will be updated and added as information becomes available, and are subject to change.
Housing and Campus Operations
Can students apply/appeal to be on campus?
Yes. Students who were planning to live on campus received a new housing application on August 7. Priority will be given to students currently living on campus for whom the College is their permanent residence and/or if traveling home is impossible, and to students who are unable to meet academic outcomes in their home environments. This application is due on Sunday, August 9 by 12 pm EST. Notifications will be distributed to applicants by Tuesday, August 11. Revised move-in details, including testing and quarantine plans, will be shared directly with students approved for fall housing.
How does this impact international students?
New students who were already in the United States as of the August 7 announcement may request housing. A small number of new international students who obtained F-1 visas will not be able to enter the country and should plan to study remotely. Returning international students currently in the United States may remain in the country and study remotely. Any international student who takes a leave of absence must leave the U.S. in accordance with federal regulations.
Can I select my room?
No. Room assignments will be made for all students and no room changes will be possible during the fall.
If I am currently living on campus will I have to switch rooms?
Yes, in all likelihood.
Will campus buildings be open to students this fall and which essential services will be available?
A small number of residence halls and the dining commons will be open to students (exclusively take-out). It is likely that most other buildings (Kendall, Library, for example) will remain closed all semester. Health Services will support on-campus residents with limited hours and services, and counseling services will be available virtually.
Will the College be remote-only in the spring?
The College very much hopes to activate original plans for campus housing for the spring semester. If we are able to bring students back to campus in the spring, the commitment to include juniors and seniors in that group remains.
How will items I shipped to campus be returned?
In accordance with the MHC mail forwarding policy, all packages shipped by US Mail will be forwarded to the student's address on file. Packages from all other carriers will be returned to the original senders. US Postal letter mail will be forwarded to the student's address on file.
Will faculty and staff continue to be allowed on campus?
There are no changes at this time to the College’s return to work policy for employees. Employees must be authorized to return to campus as part of department operating plans.
Will asymptomatic screening still be available to faculty, staff and students on campus?
Yes. Mount Holyoke will provide and require asymptomatic screening for employees and students on campus.
Will there be any changes to the fall academic calendar? When will the spring calendar be available?
At this time, there are no further changes to the fall academic calendar. We anticipate publishing the spring calendar later in August.
Will there be changes to student course registration?
Students who wish to adjust their course schedule can do so during the add/drop period beginning on August 17. Students should be in touch with their faculty advisor or class dean to discuss course adjustments ahead of the add/drop period.
How can students request remote learning support?
Please first visit the LITS Student Guide: 2020-2021 which is updated regularly. LITS has a limited number of laptops available for semester loan. These laptops are available to students who do not have access to a personal computer, and who need a device to complete coursework. Please email email@example.com to request support for additional needs.
Can students defer their admission or take a leave of absence?
While we strongly encourage first-year students to enroll in remote courses and begin with their cohort in the fall, deferral requests can be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org until Wednesday August 19. Should you have questions prior to submitting the form, please contact the Admission Office at 413-538-3334.
Returning students who wish to apply for a personal leave for the coming semester or academic year should be in touch with their academic dean or faculty advisor. The preferred deadline for requesting a personal leave was July 13; however, leave requests received later will be honored.
Will there be room and board charges or refunds?
Students who will not be on campus for the fall 2020 semester will not be charged for room and board. This is the majority of students for fall 2020. Students who have already paid fall bills will be able to request a refund if a credit balance exists after all room and board and financial aid adjustments have been applied. Payment plans will automatically adjust to the lower charges prior to the payment due date. There is no financial penalty for withdrawing from housing prior to move-in.
What about my work-study award for fall?
Work study for all remote students will be replaced by grant aid for the period they are not living on campus.
What about my on-campus job?
Students who have secured on-campus student jobs and were anticipating working on campus in-person in the fall will receive more information about next steps by August 14, and should watch for information from email@example.com. Students interested in working remotely during the fall should also complete the location form as soon as possible.
Will the College reimburse travel or lodging expenses for students who were planning on traveling to Mount Holyoke in August?
Unfortunately, the College is not able to reimburse personal expenses. Many airlines are waiving change fees and offering credits due to the pandemic; be certain to check with your travel provider.
Is there additional financial assistance available to students?
Yes. The Student Safety Net Fund will reopen on Monday, August 24, 2020. Fall funding will support first generation and/ or low-income students who may have difficulty accessing living necessities and/or technology or resources required for academic success in a remote environment.
How will having a remote semester affect the College’s financial situation?
Mount Holyoke’s underlying financial condition is stable, and we will continue to review the additional financial implications of a remote semester.
Though the coming semester will be different than any of us imagined, please know that we look forward to being in community with you, supporting you and enhancing this community that means so much to all of us. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me or another member of the team directly with questions. You can also email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Marcella Runell Hall
Vice President for Student Life, Dean of Students