Mount Holyoke College inviting some students back to campus in spring

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Staff Writer
Published: 10/29/2020 2:37:41 PM

SOUTH HADLEY — Mount Holyoke College, which has operated on a remote basis throughout the fall, announced that it will invite up to 60% of its student population back to campus for the spring semester.

“Our goal is to safely accommodate as many students wishing to return as we possibly can, and to continue to ensure that those for whom Mount Holyoke is their permanent address or who need to be on campus can remain in residence,” Mount Holyoke President Sonya Stephens wrote to the college community on Wednesday.

Any student may apply to return to campus, though if more than 60% express interest, college officials will use a prioritization system. The college enrolls 2,190 undergraduates, according to its website.

The majority of learning will likely remain remote, according to Stephens. Faculty members will determine the mode of delivery and must also ensure that resources are available for students studying remotely.

Outside of classes, campus life as a whole will be a different experience, Stephens said. Students will be tested for COVID-19 at least twice a week; those living on campus cannot host visitors; all food will be provided on a take-out basis; off-campus travel will be limited; and many buildings and facilities will be closed or open in a limited capacity.

Students may participate in “some in-person, small group activities,” according to Stephens, and will have some access to indoor and outdoor fitness facilities and recreational activities.

The college has also identified more on-campus and off-campus quarantine spaces, Stephens wrote.

The college came to its decision due to “increased experience in managing these conditions over recent months, a deeper understanding of how Mount Holyoke’s campus operations can adapt with extraordinary health and safety guidelines in place, and clear evidence that good practices have been shown to reduce risk,” according to Stephens.

A college spokeswoman declined to provide further information on the plan, such as how strictly student travel will be limited and said that more information will be released on Nov. 12.

Late last week, the University of Massachusetts Amherst, which limited on-campus housing for the fall semester to students taking mandatory in-person classes or in other extenuating circumstances, announced that it will also invite around 60% of its usual on-campus population to return to campus in the spring. Typically, 14,000 students live on campus.

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


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