Updated and Important Information about COVID-19

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Dear Students, Staff and Faculty,

The information regarding community spread of COVID-19 has been changing rapidly. The College’s leadership team, emergency response team, and I have been meeting regularly, and for much of the day today, focused on the safety and well-being of the campus community and on resolving as much of the uncertainty as we can, so that we can remain open and move forward intentionally and planfully. To that end, we have made the following decisions:

  • In-person classes will continue through Friday, March 13.
  • Spring break will be extended by one week through Sunday, March 29.
  • Alternate modes of instruction will be available from March 30, and will enable you to complete the courses you have begun. Students will receive more information about this in the coming days.
  • All students must move out of their on-campus housing beginning on Saturday, March 14, and must be moved out by Friday, March 20, at the latest. Students should not expect to live on campus for the remainder of this semester.
  • On-campus housing and dining will be provided only to students who have no option but to remain on campus. Students from countries with travel restrictions, those whose legal residence is Mount Holyoke College, and those with other extenuating circumstances that may require continued residence on campus should fill out this form.

There are no known cases on our campus and few cases in Massachusetts, but it is clear that one of the best strategies to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus is to practice social distancing—to minimize the circumstances in which individuals interact. We know that the potential for the virus to spread rapidly in communities is high, posing particular challenges for residential colleges like Mount Holyoke.

We know, too, that many members of our campus community are planning to travel during spring break, and their return from many places around the country and the world presents a significant risk of exposure to this virus on our campus. It is for that reason that we felt compelled to make this very difficult decision now. Disruptive though these actions are for all of us, the health and wellbeing of our community comes first, and these circumstances require exceptional care and protection of all who are a part of the College, particularly those who may be most vulnerable to a novel virus outbreak.
I have been hearing from students all afternoon, and I know that there will be deep disappointment among you that you are having to leave campus at such short notice. Seniors, my heart goes out to you especially. Please know that we will continue fully to support you all in your education and that we will be looking for opportunities to ensure that we build a virtual community with the hallmarks of this place you call MoHome. 
To our faculty and staff, your work perhaps has already and may continue to shift in the days ahead. The various working groups and the leadership team are focused on ways to support your efforts, and we are deeply grateful for your creativity and commitment to the College, now and always.

The best source of up-to-date information is https://www.mtholyoke.edu/health/coronavirus

There are many details and questions that will be addressed in the coming days. We will continue to update our FAQ as the situation evolves. If you have questions, you may email them to covid19info@mtholyoke.edu

It was not easy to reach this decision. Being here together, engaged in or supporting inquiry and learning, raising the questions that matter and doing our best to solve them, independently and together, is what makes the Mount Holyoke community so engaging and so special. If we approach this situation in the same way as we approach so many other questions and challenges, we will grow and learn together, even though we may be geographically further apart.


Sonya Stephens
Mount Holyoke College