On Saturday, May 29, Mount Holyoke College will reopen its outdoor grounds to the community.
Lifting this restriction aligns with Governor Baker’s new guidance on COVID-19. It is yet another indication of the progress that has been made in countering a pandemic that has taken so many lives and wreaked such havoc locally, nationally and internationally.
Naturally, in accordance with state and federal guidelines and recommended practices, we will move cautiously forward toward attaining pre-pandemic levels of openness. For this reason, there will be some limits on the reopening of our campus grounds:
- All buildings will continue to be closed to the public.
- While no masks will be needed while walking or enjoying the campus outdoors, masks will still be required at outdoor events for all individuals, regardless of vaccination status.
- Outdoor athletic facilities such as the track and the tennis courts are under repair and will not be available this summer.
- Only approved campus events will be allowed.
- Fishing will again be allowed at the Upper Lake, off Park Street and behind the Kendall Sports & Dance Complex. It is not permitted at the Lower Lake or any other waterways on campus.
- Help us keep our campus beautiful. Please carry out any trash brought to campus, including pet waste and fishing supplies.
- Mount Holyoke students, faculty and staff will continue to display their College-issued lanyards to ensure building access protocols are maintained. Masks will continue to be worn inside buildings when not in private spaces while individuals continue to obtain vaccinations and until further guidance is provided.
- And finally, please be sure to note any signage signaling changes to campus access.
Speaking of signage: when on campus, please take note of our new banners. They give voice to our ongoing commitment to become an anti-racist community. They also ensure that visitors are aware of our values as they enjoy our grounds.
Here in the Pioneer Valley, this progress is a testament to the able leadership of public officials and other community leaders over the past 15 months, as well as the willingness of Valley residents to endure hardships and inconveniences that were unimagined at the start of last year.
COVID-19 has been an extraordinary test for all of us. We on the Mount Holyoke campus have missed our longstanding open-gate policy, which has made the campus a vibrant part of the surrounding community for close to 200 years. We have missed the joggers, walkers and Frisbee players who enjoyed our splendid lawns and winding paths. At the same time, we thank our neighbors for honoring our closed campus in recent months.
We also thank South Hadley’s elected officials, municipal employees, first responders and community leaders for their leadership in these troubled months. They have displayed a commonsense approach to dealing with an uncommon challenge. So too do we thank all those who have continued to work throughout the pandemic to deliver essential services to the Valley. From health care workers and teachers to grocery workers and restaurant staff, so many of our neighbors have faced down danger every day to help us all through a year that has taught us one vital lesson: We can meet any challenge if we do it together.
—Shannon D. Gurek, vice president for finance and administration and treasurer of Mount Holyoke College, and South Hadley resident
Marcella Runell Hall, vice president for student life and dean of students at Mount Holyoke College and South Hadley resident