Campus Updates

Please visit the Campus Updates page for information on Mount Holyoke’s response to the global pandemic. The Opening the Gates website contains the plan for the fall semester. FAQs are being updated regularly.

Safe On-Campus Living and Housing

Eligibility and Status

An important message from President Sonya Stephens on fall 2020, August 7, 2020.

On-Campus Living

  • On August 7, Mount Holyoke College announced that most students would not be coming back to live on campus this fall. Students who had previously applied to live on campus for the fall 2020 semester should check their emails for further information from Residential Life about moving forward.

Students Living Off-Campus

  • Most students will live at their permanent residence when they are not in residence on campus. All students not living on campus will take their courses remotely. Students not residing on campus will not be allowed in the residence halls.
  • We hope to invite a limited number of commuter students to participate in co-curricular experiences in person. 
  • The Office of Residential Life does not provide assistance in locating off-campus housing. 

This decision was made after careful deliberation on how best to create safe campus living for our students. Most importantly, we know that many students want to be on campus — and we very much want you here. We are also clear that our responsibility to the health and safety of our community means that we must lower the density of individuals on campus.

Some of the ways we can do so is by assigning students to single rooms, choosing residence halls that allow for a low student-to-bathroom ratio and ensuring adequate resources for regular testing.

In light of the complexity of these many considerations, the most equitable framework was to ensure that every student who is able to — and wants to — spend time in residence on campus next year has the opportunity to do so. The best way to do that is to invite our first-year students and sophomores to live on campus in the fall, and juniors and seniors in the spring. New, first-year international students who were unable to join in the fall because of travel or safety issues will be prioritized (after juniors and seniors) in the spring.

We also understand, however, that we need to create flexibility in our housing plan in order to provide space for students who, for a variety of reasons, need to be on campus outside of the invited classes. To that end, we are also able to use additional available spaces to support students in other class cohorts who wish to be in residence. Examples include students with home situations that make remote learning impossible; students with personal circumstances, current location, travel or visa concerns; and students with health and safety considerations that create a housing need.

Seniors who will graduate in December will be given priority in the application process for fall housing.

Health Services will provide the full scope of primary care services to all on-campus students.

Health Services will provide assessment, testing and management of COVID-19 including isolation and quarantine protocols. Contact tracing of students will be done primarily by College staff in collaboration with the Department of Public Health and the local Board of Health.

Health Services will work with students who are off campus to provide consultation and advice on acute care concerns and assist with prescription management. Students living off campus who previously received care through Health Services will be transitioned to providers in their local geographic area.

ALL STUDENTS will have access to consultation with counseling service clinicians who will respond to immediate needs. When applicable, counseling service clinicians will work with the student to identify options for ongoing treatment in accordance with state laws.

The College has designated spaces on the campus to be used for isolation of COVID-19-positive students. Additional spaces have been designated to quarantine students identified as close contacts of a student who tests positive. The College will follow guidance developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Massachusetts Department of Public Health, and Health Services will administer campus-specific protocols and provide ongoing clinical support to impacted students.

All isolation and quarantine spaces have sufficient internet connection to allow for ongoing access to remote learning. Students will not be able to leave these spaces or have any visitors during the specified isolation or quarantine time.

A student may choose to return home for the isolation or quarantine period. In this case, return home must be via private car provided by the student or their family. Due to disease transmission concerns, public transportation or other forms of transportation are not permitted. When home, the family and student should assume the clinical management of care with their local provider. Students will be required to disclose their travel plans and continued care plan before leaving campus to assure proper reporting and contact tracing with public health agencies. Documentation of medical clearance must be provided to Health Services for approval to return to campus. Students who leave campus temporarily for this purpose will not be eligible for prorated room and board charges.

Mount Holyoke takes great pride in being a residential college and we recognize the value of the residential learning experience. We therefore plan to continue to provide the best educational opportunity and experiences possible. However, given the limitations placed on us by the pandemic, some things will be different: 

  • Students may take some or all of their classes virtually, even if they are living on campus.
  • Access to all buildings on campus will require One Card for entry. Students will have entry access to the building(s) in which they live, attend classes and receive other services (e.g., the Community Center, Kendall, Library, etc.).
  • Dining hours will be limited and all meals will be take-out. Seating in the Dining Commons will not be available when you arrive on campus. As state requirements change, we hope to modify our approach. We anticipate that good weather will allow for a wide variety of options for students to take their meals outdoors.
  • Students will have access to the academic and recreational spaces such as Williston Library and Kendall. Details are forthcoming.
  • The College will not participate in varsity athletics competitions in the fall.
  • Large, on-campus gatherings will not be permitted. However, students will have opportunities to engage in a wide variety of community building/co-curricular activities both in small groups and virtually.

Every member of the College community will be asked to sign what we are calling a “Community Compact.” It will include information about personal and group accountability, and outline each student’s accountability for the requirements listed. Community Compacts will be posted as they become available.

In place of traditional Living-Learning Communities, we will be offering cohort housing. The cohort approach will differ from our traditional Living Learning Communities (LLC) in that their location on campus may need to change, lounge spaces will be closed and programming and advising (community meetings, liaison office hours) will be held virtually. We look forward to the following cohort communities for 2020-2021:

  • First Year Cohort: focuses on creating a community that helps our new students become acquainted with the college and involved during their first year. 
  • Gloria Anzaldúa Cohort: for students who self-identity as queer and trans people of color at a predominantly white institution.
  • Livin’ Free Cohort: for students who abstain from substances such as alcohol, tobacco products, marijuana, illegal drugs and the misuse of prescription medication. 
  • Lyon’s Legacy Cohort: for students who self-identity as transgender, nonbinary, and/or gender nonconforming people.
  • Mary Woolley Cohort: for students who self-identity as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, asexual, aromantic, pansexual, polysexual, and allied people. 
  • Mi Gente Cohort: for students who are of Latina/x descent, identify within the Latin American Diaspora and/or wish to foster connections between different cultures within the diaspora. 
  • Mosaic Cohort: for students who self-identify as people of color and express a commitment to creating an inclusive and socially just community.
  • Shirley Chisholm Cohort: for students who are of African descent, identify with the African Diaspora and/or wish to foster connections between different cultures within the diaspora.

To accommodate the changes to on-campus living, we will conduct a new housing lottery. 

  • NEW STUDENTS will be placed in their housing assignment by the Office of Residential Life and will receive notification of their housing assignment on July 21, 2020. 
  • RETURNING STUDENTS invited back to on-campus housing will participate in a housing lottery. The housing lottery will take place on July 14-July 16, 2020. More information will be provided directly via email to those students who are eligible for campus housing in Fall 2020 and posted on the student portal (my.mtholyoke).


  • Tuesday, August 18, 2020-Thursday, August 20, 2020: new students move-in.
  • Thursday, August 20-Saturday, August 22: Returning students move-in. 
  • Monday, August 24: Classes begin.

Reservations and Move-In Day Assistance

See the move-in reservations and move-in logistics sections of the July 31 update.

Cloth Face Coverings

See the move-in logistics section of the July 31 update.

Personal belongings

Pack lightly! Move-in time is limited to under two hours, so it is best to bring only essential items. Those who anticipate requiring additional time should consider shipping belongings to campus in advance of arrival. Keep in mind that should the College need to close quickly for health and safety reasons, students will be better positioned if they have brought only essential items, as the College cannot be responsible for moving, shipping or storage costs incurred by families.

Transportation to campus 

Students arriving from within the US should arrange complete travel to campus in advance. We may be able to arrange for a limited number of shuttles for students arriving from outside of the US, but this is not guaranteed. We are exploring options for shuttle service at the end of fall housing (November). More information will be available in October.

Students traveling via Bradley airport in CT should be aware of CT travel guidelines.

More information is available in the housing section of the FAQ page.