Campus Updates

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COVID-19 vaccination mandate for employees

The Mount Holyoke College seal

June 30, 2021

Dear faculty, staff and students,

We write today to share the decision that Mount Holyoke College will mandate COVID-19 vaccinations for all College employees, with documentation of full vaccination due by August 13, 2021. We expect that every member of the Mount Holyoke faculty and staff will be on campus soon —  in the course of their regular work and/or for significant campus activities such as Convocation and Commencement — and have, therefore, determined that every employee must achieve and document full COVID-19 vaccination. 

This decision aligns with the previously announced requirement that all students be vaccinated, as well as with mandates already announced by some other members of the Five College Consortium, and extends the vaccine requirement to all employees, with the understanding that there will continue to be provisions for those members of our community qualifying for medical or religious exemptions. 

This decision also derives from the unambiguous advice of national, state and local public health and medical experts that achieving as near to universal vaccination as possible is essential if we are to keep our community safe as we return to the in-person and on-campus activities associated with our residential educational experience. 

The higher the level of vaccination that we are able to achieve on campus, the more quickly and safely we will be able to return to in-person, unmasked interactions. This vaccination requirement will also reduce the need for physical distancing and asymptomatic COVID-19 testing, and enable us to modify quarantine and isolation protocols for residential students.  

While we have heard the concerns expressed by those members of our community who would prefer not to be vaccinated, it is important to note that this decision to require COVID-19 vaccination also reflects the position of the vast majority of Mount Holyoke employees who have shared feedback via recent surveys, town hall discussions and email. 

In Massachusetts, vaccines are now widely available at pharmacies, vaccination centers and health care and public health offices; the Commonwealth of Massachusetts provides more information on obtaining the COVID-19 vaccine on its website. International students who cannot obtain a vaccine in their home country will receive assistance from health services to do so when they arrive. More details regarding on-campus vaccination availability will follow later this summer.

Those employees who do not comply with the vaccine mandate and who do not qualify for a medical or religious exemption will be unable to work after the August 13 deadline. Please contact the office of human resources if you expect to fall into this category, so that the College can discuss your situation with you and plan for the transition of your work responsibilities.  

Some members of our community will remain unvaccinated because of medical or religious exemptions. Others who are vaccinated may choose to continue to mask, and still others may prefer to continue to distance physically when possible. It is important that we avoid making assumptions about any individual and their vaccination status; that we continue to extend the grace, understanding, empathy and support that are hallmarks of the Mount Holyoke community; and that we approach all interactions respectfully and with compassion as we make this transition.

In the fall, all students, faculty and staff will be invited to participate in a voluntary program, the goal of which is to facilitate interactions on campus through visible markers of each person’s comfort level with such interactions/physical distancing. More information about this opportunity will follow later this summer.  

Please also take time to review the Health & Safety page for additional, important information about current plans for COVID-19 safety policies for fall. Answers to many questions are posted, and more details will be shared as they are available. We will continue to monitor the public health situation and will make adjustments, either to expand or contract health and safety protocols, as appropriate. 

We very much look forward to welcoming new and returning members of our community to campus later this summer as we resume campus life and our shared endeavors more fully and in person. 

Sincerely,

President Sonya Stephens and Members of the College Cabinet

Dorothy E. Mosby
Interim Dean of Faculty and Vice President for Academic Affairs; Mary E. Woolley Professor of Spanish

Gary Gillis
Associate Dean of Faculty; Norman Wait Harris and Emma Gale Harris Foundation Professor of Biological Sciences; Director of the Science Center

Shannon D. Gurek
Vice President for Finance and Administration and Treasurer

Marcella Runell Hall
Vice President for Student Life and Dean of Students

Kassandra Jolley
Vice President for College Relations

Robin Randall
Vice President for Enrollment Management

Kijua Sanders-McMurtry
Vice President for Equity and Inclusion and Chief Diversity Officer

Laura Smiarowski
Interim Chief of Staff