Campus Updates

Visit the campus updates page for information on Mount Holyoke's response to the global pandemic. The Opening the Gates site contains details about the spring semester.

Mount Holyoke College
Opening the Gates

Health and Prevention

All members of the community are expected to follow COVID-19 prevention measures as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Community members are expected to: 

  • Maintain a physical distance of 6 feet from others at all times.
  • Wear a face covering when in contact with others and outside of residence hall rooms or offices. Please note: Students, faculty and staff will not be permitted to participate in campus in-person classes, work or other activities without the use of a face covering, including outdoors activities.
  • Self-monitor for possible symptoms for COVID-19.
  • Wash hands frequently. 
  • Clean high-touch objects after use (e.g., computers, exercise equipment, classroom and common room furniture, etc.). 

Any community member with symptoms of COVID-19 is prohibited from participating in in-person classes, campus work and activities. Any student with suspected COVID-19 symptoms must immediately contact Health Services to determine the appropriate next steps. The Massachusetts Department of Health requires all students enrolled in the 2020-2021 school year to get a flu vaccine by Dec. 31, 2020. All other community members are strongly encouraged to obtain one as well.

COVID-19 Higher Education Control Plan

The incoming health forms page has details on the health requirements for students arriving to live on campus for the first time.

Students who submitted health forms for fall 2020 do not need to submit new ones. Health Services will review for completeness and email students with questions. 

The commonwealth of Massachusetts requires all college students to receive a flu vaccine by Dec. 31, 2020. This vaccine must be administered after August 15, 2020. Students are strongly encouraged to receive this vaccine prior to arrival on campus. Documentation of the 2020 flu vaccine and completion of a TB screening form must be received before room keys will be distributed.

Use MyHealthConnection to complete the online immunization record and TB screening form.

Documentation of vaccines, including the 2020 flu vaccine, should be faxed to 413-538-2352 or emailed to health@mtholyoke.edu.

U.S. Centers for Disease Control Recommendation

On April 3, 2020, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a voluntary recommendation for the use of face coverings to supplement other prevention strategies to slow community transmission of COVID-19. On May 1, 2020, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker signed an executive order, effective May 6, 2020, requiring face coverings in areas where physical distancing is not possible. On November 2, 2020, Governor Baker signed an executive order, effective November 6, 2020, that requires face coverings in public at all times.

On-Campus requirements for face coverings

At Mount Holyoke, face coverings must be worn:

  • Outdoors on campus grounds.
  • Prior to entering all buildings — it should be worn before going inside.
  • In the common areas of all buildings (hallways, elevators, stairwells, restrooms, lounges, kitchenettes, copier/printer areas, etc.).
  • If you are alone in a private workspace with the door closed, you do not need to wear your face covering. You must wear your face covering if your door is open. You must put your face covering on before leaving that private space, or if someone enters the room.
  • In multiple-passenger College vehicles

Do not move about the campus grounds or enter any College building without a face covering on.

Face coverings must be worn by all persons over the age of 5. Face coverings are encouraged, but not required, for children between the ages of 2 and 5. Children younger than 2 should not wear face coverings.

Individuals who cannot wear a face covering due to a medical condition are exempted. Employees with a medical exemption must communicate with their supervisor and Human Resources before coming to campus. Students with a medical exemption must communicate with the Office of Residential Life and Health Services before coming to campus.

Everyone must provide their own face covering. Face coverings are considered part of our regular attire for the foreseeable future, so please be sure to have a sufficient supply prior to coming to campus. Please note that face coverings are not personal protective equipment (PPE). Surgical/procedure and N95 masks continue to be in short supply, so should be reserved for use by health care workers and emergency responders. 

Mount Holyoke College does not make recommendations for specific brands or types of masks or face coverings, other than that they should follow CDC guidance. In general, cloth face coverings should have two or more layers of fabric, fit snuggly, not impair breathing and cover the mouth and nose. Clear masks should also cover the mouth and nose, not impair breathing and should not collect excess moisture build up. Face coverings or masks of any type should not have exhalation valves or vents. Gaiters should have two layers or be folded to create two layers.

The College continually monitors for updated information as new science emerges. There have been recent news articles and media coverage about double-masking, particularly in reference to new variants of the virus that may spread more easily. Make sure your mask or face covering fits well and review CDC’s guidance: Improve How Your Mask Protects You. We will continue to update this page with official guidance when it becomes available. Please continue to wear multi-layer face coverings or masks, practice physical distancing, frequent hand hygiene and do not get complacent.

Even if you tested positive for (and recovered from) COVID-19, you must wear a face covering.

Even if you had the vaccine, you must wear a face covering.

Face coverings are intended to prevent transmission by the person wearing the covering. We must still maintain physical distance (at least 6 feet), practice respiratory etiquette (cover coughs and sneezes) and wash our hands frequently and thoroughly (at least 20 seconds with soap and water). These are the best measures we can take to decrease community transmission.

The Center for Disease Control has information regarding the proper wearing of face covers and how to make them. More information is available on the mass.gov website.

Questions about face coverings should be directed to Environmental Health and Safety.

All students who reside on campus are required to be tested twice weekly within the College’s asymptomatic testing program. The frequency of testing may be adjusted by the College at any time in recognition of changing pandemic trends.

Any student with symptoms of COVID-19 should contact Health Services at 413-538-2242 to review and discuss these symptoms:

  • fever
  • cough
  • shortness of breath
  • recent loss of taste or smell
  • nausea
  • abdominal pain

Faculty and staff members with these symptoms should contact their primary care provider or urgent care center and not return to work until symptoms are resolved.

The commonwealth of Massachusetts has outlined quarantine requirements and testing options related to travel from outside of the state. All members of the Mount Holyoke community are expected to follow state guidelines.

On-campus testing begins with 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 that they are all tested on the same days.

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 Mount Holyoke College Health Services and walked through the next steps, which will include isolation and contact tracing.

Students who test positive or are presumed positive for COVID-19 will be placed into isolation housing. Students determined to be close contacts of confirmed COVID-19 cases will be placed into quarantine housing. Health Services staff will notify students directly regarding positive results and confirm information to define a close contact.

Students in isolation or quarantine will bring necessities as well as entertainment and limited personal items with them. They will be contacted daily by Health Services to assess symptoms and determine next steps. Delivery of food will be arranged with Dining Services each day.  

Information regarding resources and how to reach the coordinator of quarantine and isolation will be provided. Trash pickup will be twice weekly and a linen exchange will be arranged. A private laundry service can be arranged at the student’s expense.

Students are not permitted to leave their space for the duration of their quarantine or isolation period. Health Services will determine and communicate the date that the student can return to their housing assignment. Health Services will also arrange for COVID-19 testing of students in quarantine just prior to the end of the quarantine period.

Students in isolation or quarantine should participate remotely in classes and other campus programs to the extent that they feel up to it.

Information about the Student Health Insurance Program can be found in the Financial Matters section.

The transmission of COVID-19 is similar to that of other viral illnesses. We recommend taking preventive actions every day to help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses, including:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds — especially after you cough and sneeze and before you eat. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick. 
  • Maintain 6 feet of distance and wear a face covering when outside of your residence hall room or office. This includes while outside. 
  • If you are sick, avoid contact with others (in classes, group meetings, work settings, common areas, etc.). Staff members should not come to work.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with your elbow or sleeve or with a tissue, and throw the tissue in the trash. 
  • Clean and disinfect objects and surfaces that are frequently touched, including laptops and mobile devices. LITS recommends using damp antimicrobial wipes, such as Clorox or alcohol wipes to disinfect your phone, laptop, mouse, keyboard and tablet. Wring out the wipe before you clean to prevent liquid getting into devices.

Any student with concerns about respiratory infection should call Health Services at 413-538-2242. We will then be able to determine the appropriate level of assessment and care. Health Services continues to provide a full range of services for primary care, immunizations and labs. Its hours are listed on its website.

Vaccine information

Many members of the Mount Holyoke community have had questions about the COVID-19 vaccine: how to schedule appointments, where to get the vaccine doses, traveling to get the vaccine and more. Staff members are able to use work time to get the vaccine and should reach out to their supervisor or HR for any support needed. Below are the most commonly asked questions about the vaccine. If you have other questions, please contact Health Services

Should I get the COVID-19 vaccine?

We encourage all members of our community to receive any of the vaccines which have been approved and are available in the area in which you reside. For those who are living outside the United States, we encourage you to receive the vaccine available to you. Here’s more information about the COVID-19 vaccines

When can I get the vaccine?

On April 19, 2021, the state of Massachusetts is expanding eligibility to anyone who is over the age of 16. Using your College mailing address, all of our students will be eligible for the vaccine on that date. This link provides a wide range of information regarding eligibility, locations and pre-registration for mass vaccine clinics.

Where can I get the vaccine? 

In Massachusetts, COVID-19 vaccines are being distributed by the Department of Public Health through large vaccine centers, regional centers run by Boards of Health, hospital systems and regional pharmacies. Each state has developed its own plan so distribution and eligibility varies across the US. Use this vaxfinder to find available appointments in Massachusetts. 

Can I travel off campus to get the vaccine?

Yes! While there are a number of clinics and pharmacies within the approved 10-mile radius of campus, students can contact Residence Life for approval for travel outside the 10-mile radius for a same-day trip for the vaccine. 

What about transportation?

There are some vaccine  locations on the PVTA bus route or locations where campus shuttles travel. Contact Fleet Services for information about Zip cars and shuttles. Uber, Lyft and other cab companies are making trips in the area, though at a lower volume or frequency. Students may apply for Safety Net Funding to cover the cost of this transportation.

What if I can get only one dose of the two dose series?

Both the Pfizer and the Moderna vaccines require two doses. You should try to receive any of the vaccines available to you. The first dose of these vaccines provides a high level of protection. This will be important to your health and the public health as you prepare to travel away for the summer. As supply expands throughout the country, it should be easier to complete the second doses of each of these vaccines. A 60-day gap between doses is acceptable. It is recommended that the second dose of the same vaccine is received. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is a one-dose vaccine.

Will I be able to stay on campus for my second dose?

No, this will not be a reason to delay departure from campus. Most students will need to leave campus by May 12;seniors by May 16.  Students currently living on campus are welcome to apply for transitional and summer housing.  You can apply for transitional/summer housing by completing the application in Residence. These applications are due by Monday, April 19 at 12:00 pm (noon) EST. 

Will MHC be holding clinics for the vaccine?

The Department of Public Health has prioritized vaccine distribution to the larger regional public clinics. All indications at this time are that vaccine supply will not be allocated specifically to institutions of higher education. There is a vaccine clinic at UMass Amherst, but it is a large clinic for the region; it does not serve the unique needs of UMass Amherst students or employees. Health Services continues to work with the state and regional public health departments to be prepared to provide on-campus vaccines, if that becomes possible.

Will the vaccine be required for fall 2021?

As the supply of vaccines expands throughout the country, there is an increasing likelihood that vaccines will be required for residential students at US colleges. The College will communicate with the community when we finalize our policy for fall. Right now, everyone is strongly encouraged to receive the COVID-19vaccine as soon as they can. Students should submit documentation to Health@mtholyoke.edu or fax it to 413-538-2352. Health Services will update your immunization record.

How is the College helping students with scheduling?

This must feel very complicated. You’re not alone in that. If you need help, Health Services is available to answer questions and to assist you in using the vaxfinding website. Each student, however, must make their own appointment and provide their own registration information. Health Services is not able to arrange for blocks or individual appointments for any members of our community. Here are some tips and resources to assist you.