Mount Holyoke reverses closure decision, extends contract on child care center

  • Students walk to and from the Mount Holyoke College Blanchard Campus Center Nov. 16. GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 3/3/2021 8:09:46 PM

SOUTH HADLEY — Following protests from families, Mount Holyoke College has announced that the on-campus Gorse Children’s Center, which was previously slated to close at the end of June, will remain open for another year.

In a message to the Mount Holyoke and extended communities, college President Sonya Stephens said she was “deeply sorry” for the stress caused by the college’s initial announcement that Gorse would close in the summer.

“The college leadership team and I continue to examine the errors and lessons we have all learned from this experience, and we commit to establishing more collaborative processes for decision-making on issues of such consequence,” Stephens said. “As president, I take full responsibility for these errors, for the decision and for the enormous stress and turmoil it has caused.”

The college announced last week that it would not renew its contract with Bright Horizons Family Solutions, which expires at the end of June. This announcement sent families rushing to find alternative child care options at centers with long wait lists, and prompted many to sign petitions calling for a reversal of the decision. Some parents also protested on the college campus last Thursday.

Mount Holyoke has now secured a one-year extension to the contract with Bright Horizons, Stephens said Wednesday.

Allison Lepper, a Gorse parent who previously spoke out against the closing, said that she is “thankful for the president and her leadership team listening, and for taking the necessary steps to secure this interim solution,” but that families are continuing to press for the college’s long-term investment in the center’s future.”

The latest announcement is “absolutely a step in the right direction,” Lepper added, but “there’s a lot of work to be done, there’s a lot of trust to rebuild, and I think there’s a lot of room to build in the lines of communication between the impacted communities that hasn’t existed with Mount Holyoke leadership.”

Jacquelyn Voghel can be reached at jvoghel@gazettenet.com.


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