Mount Holyoke College to host around half of students on campus, limit travel during spring semester

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  • Students walk to and from the Mount Holyoke College Blanchard Campus Center on Monday. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Students walk to the Blanchard Campus Center at Mount Holyoke College on Monday. College officials anticipate some 60% of its student body will return to return to live on campus for the spring semester, which starts in January. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

Staff Writer
Published: 11/16/2020 8:06:08 PM

SOUTH HADLEY — Mount Holyoke College expects up to 60% of its student population back on campus next spring following a fall semester where the campus was closed by coronavirus concerns, the school announced last week.

College officials said that all students in good standing were invited to apply for on-campus housing in the spring in a shift from the college’s remote fall semester, and they anticipate about 1,300 students will do so. The college enrolls 2,190 students, according to its website.

Students who do return to campus must stay within a designated 10-mile radius of the college.

Administrators Dorothy Mosby and Marcella Runell Hall said in a letter to the college community that the Mount Holyoke officials “came to our spring decisions with 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.”

Faculty will determine whether their classes will be offered remotely or in-person and must ensure that all coursework can be completed for students who choose to study remotely, according to Mosby, who is interim dean of faculty and vice president of Academic Affairs, and Runell Hall, vice president of Student Life and dean of students.

“While we anticipate that the majority of courses will continue to be delivered remotely,” Mosby and Runell Hall added, “many faculty are excited by the prospect of hosting some in-person activities on campus in the coming semester.”

Students who do live on campus “can anticipate having the opportunity for engaging in-person, small-group activities that enrich the experience for everyone on campus,” Mosby and Runell Hall said, including some access to fitness facilities and recreational activities, and additional social events offered virtually.

But Mosby and Runell Hall reiterated from a previous campus update that the on campus experience will be “vastly different.” In addition to staying within the 10-mile radius of campus, students must agree to protocols such as twice-weekly COVID-19 testing and no visitors.

Students will move in beginning Jan. 12, and move out is May 12. No decisions regarding commencement have been announced at this time.

College officials said that the plans are subject to change due to the pandemic and advised students to pack light.

“While we cannot say with 100% certainty that we will not need to make adjustments large and small, it is our sincere hope and intention to maintain our core academic and campus residency plans for spring, unless or until extraordinary circumstances beyond our control require otherwise,” Mosby and Runnell Hall said.

The announcement comes as COVID-19 cases are on the rise across the state and around the country.

Other colleges

Among the Five Colleges, the University of Massachusetts Amherst has also announced that it would invite back 60% of its usual on-campus population, which typically numbers around 14,000 students.

Amherst College will invite around 1,200 students back to campus in the spring, including all but most sophomores; and Hampshire College, which invited all students back to campus in the fall and hosted around 550 to 600, is planning for a “robust spring semester,” according to college President Ed Wingenbach.

Smith College, which has operated remotely throughout the fall semester, intends to announce its plans shortly before December break.

Jacquelyn Voghel can be reached at

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