Fall 2020 Academics
The health and safety of our students and faculty are always our priority. As we prepare to reopen the campus and welcome the community back for the academic year, the fall 2020 semester will be different. Because of COVID-19, we need to adapt the way that we typically do things, while staying true to the core values we hold at Mount Holyoke College.
In-person instruction will both look and feel different because it will require physical distancing and everyone will wear masks. Because of physical distancing, classroom capacities will be reduced by more than 50%, compared to a typical semester.
Depending on the learning goals and class activities, courses may involve meetings that are in person, all remote, or a combination of in person students meeting with others who are not in the classroom and accessing things remotely. There is a possible remote start for courses (no in-person instruction) to coincide with health and safety decisions regarding observation of a period of self isolation/quarantine by students when they return to campus. This will be determined at a later date, following applicable health and safety guidelines set forth by the state of Massachusetts.
Laptops are available for a semester loan to students who do not have access to a personal computer. LITS is on hand to answer questions about borrowing equipment, just email LibCirc@mtholyoke.edu.
Computer and other technology recommendations are available on the LITS website.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org with any hardware or software questions!
Initial registrations from April in five college courses had to be dropped in the summer as the academic schedules of all Five College institutions had to be re-worked.
Revised schedules for the Five Colleges institutions are available on the Five College website. Only courses that can be taken remotely are available for five college registration, as all of the schools have agreed that all five-college participation in courses must be remote.
New first-year students are not eligible to take courses through the Five College Interchange until their second semester. All other students are eligible as long as the courses fit within their per-semester and per-mod credit limits and do not conflict with the times of their Mount Holyoke courses. Amherst College limits registration in its courses to two courses per semester.
Registration for Five College courses opens Wednesday August 12 and closes Friday August 28. The usual procedures for enrolling in a Five College courses during this add/drop period apply: permission from the instructor of the course is required first and must guarantee that there is space in the course for the student, even if the course would have to be over-enrolled to register the student. Once that permission has been sent to the MHC registrar’s office at email@example.com, the student uses my.mtholyoke’s registration function to submit an official request for the Five College course. The MHC Registrar will then transmit the request and permission to the other school’s registrar’s office, and both schools will then collaborate to get the student added to the class roster, set up with credentials to access the other school’s Moodle instance, and the class added to the student’s MHC schedule in my.mtholyoke.
The first day of classes at Amherst College and UMass is the same day as Mount Holyoke’s: Monday August 24. Hampshire’s is August 24. Smith’s is Tuesday September 1.
Questions? Further information about taking Five College courses. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or, during weekday business hours, call the Registrar’s Office at (413) 538-2025.
Mount Holyoke College will suspend all study abroad for the fall 2020 semester.
The College will make its decision about spring 2021 study abroad programs later this fall.
In a typical year, Mount Holyoke approves a limited number of deferral requests in support of an enrichment opportunity, such as a clearly outlined service or experiential learning program, or for medical reasons. The Office of Admission reviews and approves these types of deferral requests for a semester or year on a case-by-case basis.
This year, we understand that the pandemic has created an unusual set of considerations for our incoming students. In light of this, the College has modified our gap request process for the current cycle. 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 at email@example.com until Wednesday August 19. Should you have questions prior to submitting the form, please contact the Admission Office at 413-538-3334.
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 connect with their faculty advisor during the advising period between July 6 and 10, 2020. The preferred deadline for requesting a personal leave is July 13; however, leave requests will be honored if they come in after that date.
The following information was emailed to Mount Holyoke College international students on July 7 and 8, 2020.
Regarding the SEVP guidance (which is the government branch of the Department of Homeland Security charged with oversight of international students and scholars in the United States with F-1 and J-1 visas) that was released Monday, July 6:
The College is continuing to work on getting more information, clarity, and advocating on your behalf in regard to the guidance. We are working on the curricular aspects of the coming academic year to try to safeguard your status and support your educational process as much as we can. Additionally, please know that this is a national issue impacting colleges and universities across the country and that many are engaged in challenging the new federal guidance--pushing back, advocating and lobbying for international students. There has been a bit of confusion about the ability to take classes remotely. If you are taking classes from home remotely, you are not violating any visa regulations as you do not need a US visa to study from outside the US. taking classes remotely from home is allowable. When you are ready to return to Mount Holyoke for in-person classes, you should be in touch with the McCulloch Center about new visa documents.
If you are currently in the US and want to remain, you must apply for on-campus housing through the housing application and we encourage you to do that as soon as possible. You can find out more about housing on the FAQ page.
Please try to avoid the overwhelming amount of online information and conversation about the SEVP announcement. Not all information you will find is necessary, factual, or relevant to the MHC campus. Many of you have friends and acquaintances studying elsewhere in the US with whom you are no doubt in close communication. Please continue to rely on emails from the College for the most up-to-date and pertinent information that directly relates to MHC.
Also remember that while Counseling Service is closed, the 24/7 Care line will be available all summer to students with urgent mental health needs. Call 413-538-2037 and follow the prompts to be connected with a clinician (there may be a brief delay while your call is being routed).
As soon as we have more information, we will be in touch. Please reach out to us if you have any questions or concerns. We are here to support you.
The College is seeking solutions and advocating for you in response to this week’s guidance from ICE. We are working with the College’s legal counsel, Massachusetts state officials and partners throughout higher education to address this action. We wish we could provide clear instruction at this time, however we have still not received relevant information from the government. We will provide updates as soon as we have them. The best thing we can do for you right now is let you know what's happening at this time, though please keep in mind that given the outrage and legal challenges, the immigration guidance issued on Monday may change in the coming days. Harvard and MIT have jointly filed a lawsuit against ICE. The Massachusetts Attorney General has also pledged to file an injunction to stop the implementation of the guidance. Again, the College is joining in the national advocacy effort.
As of now, this is the situation as we understand it
- F-1 students in the United States cannot study "entirely remotely." Our academic model model for next year is considered hybrid and includes in-person instruction that ensures it complies with the new guidelines.
- F-1 students outside the United States can study "entirely remotely."
- Should the College be forced to close and suspend all in-person instruction again as it did in the Spring, F and J students physically present in the United States would have to leave the country.
- F-1 first years who cannot be on to campus will have their immigration records deferred.
- This only affects international students in F-1 status; students in other statuses are not affected.
There are still several unknowns and contradictory information in the guidance. We are working through those and will keep you posted as we learn more.
At the moment, we advise students as follows:
1. F-1 students who are either in the United States or able and willing to travel to attend classes must attend in-person components of the curriculum. The College is offering a hybrid academic program (blend of in-person and online offerings) and will provide specific in-person courses. Importantly, international students will be prioritized for on-campus housing and we have identified space for all returning students with F-1 visas. The deadline to submit your housing application is July 8 at midnight US eastern standard time. There’s no financial requirement during the application process. Anyone in the US who wishes to remain for fall should apply for on-campus housing, as commuters will not be able to attend in-person courses.
- International students will not be able to study remotely while in the United States, so if you plan to stay in the US you should participate in the College’s housing application process.
- International students in the United States are advised that should campus close, they would be required to return home or risk serious immigration consequences
2. F-1 students outside the United States can still participate remotely, however it is the status of the SEVIS record that is significant.
- If we are able to keep the SEVIS record active, then students' I-20s would remain valid and there would be no effect on OPT/CPT eligibility. The guidance as it currently stands would require your SEVIS record be terminated if you study remotely or take a non-medical, non-academic leave.
- Because CPT (the work authorization you'd need for an internship) requires that being in Active F-1 status for two semesters in order to be eligible, any student in the class of 2024 who cannot be physically present for classes would not be eligible for this authorization in summer 2021. Students should plan accordingly when considering internships that do not require work authorization
We understand this new federal action is forcing you to make significant decisions with incomplete information. The College will host an immigration attorney, Megan Kludt, on Wednesday July 15th to answer some of your more complex questions. More information will be coming about that soon. We are doing everything we can to provide as much flexibility as possible for you. These are choices that no one should have to make. Please remember resources on campus are available to you, and we encourage you to access them.
- Other resources can be found on the services and cocurricular activities page.
“Flexible” is the operative word when describing the FIT model. Mount Holyoke’s students come from a wide range of backgrounds, and locations, and the FIT model is designed to speak to that diversity. It will give students access to the curriculum no matter where they are located or what their particular circumstances may be.
The goal is to be flexible enough so that all students may participate, while preserving the immersive and rigorous academic experience of being in a Mount Holyoke class.
The FIT model does this by:
- Using Moodle in order to maximize student and faculty accessibility.
- Emphasizing synchronous classes, which ensures an immersive experience and inclusive excellence.
- Dividing the semester into two 7.5-week modules, giving students and faculty more concentrated time to focus deeply on each course.
- Offering classes that happen between 8 am and 10:30 pm so that students in time zones across the world can participate.
A dialogue about the FIT Model
Amber Douglas and Elizabeth Markovits discuss the FIT model for use by all students, new and returning.
Amber Douglas is Dean of Studies and the director of Student Success and Advising. She is also an associate professor of psychology and education.
Elizabeth Markovits is the director of the Teaching and Learning Initiative and of First-Year Seminars. She is also a professor of politics.