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A Culture of Care

Read Smith’s plans for the fall 2021 semester.
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Smith College A Culture of Care

Fall Plan

Fall 2021 Plan


Smith College is planning to welcome students, faculty and staff back to campus in time for the fall 2021 semester. This past semester’s experience to date, combined with increasing vaccine availability, has affirmed that by taking necessary precautions we are able to live, learn and work on campus while minimizing risk.

Please Note

As always, changes in the larger pandemic context may require us to adjust these plans on short notice.

What You Need To Know

Learning on Campus

Classes will be taught in person on campus, in Smith classrooms, labs, studios and other facilities. However, depending on pandemic conditions during the term, there may be times when classes will revert temporarily to remote instruction.

Living on Campus

The Culture of Care under which we have operated for more than a year has served us well; we expect that some level of pandemic operations (e.g., physical distancing, mask wearing) will still be necessary in the fall. We will provide more information about health and safety protocols as we get closer to the fall semester.

Working on Campus

As we look forward to welcoming all of our students back to campus, we also look forward to a return to in-person work for our staff and faculty in advance of the fall semester. In the course of the transition to in-person work, some of our health and safety guidelines are likely to stay in place.


As announced on April 21, 2021, Smith College will require all undergraduate and graduate students to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 prior to returning to campus for the fall 2021 semester.

We strongly urge all members of our staff and faculty who are eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine to get vaccinated as soon as possible. We are considering requiring the vaccine for the fall, subject to medical and religious exemptions. If we elect to require the vaccine, we will provide as much advance notice as possible.

Fall 2021 FAQ

What coronavirus health and safety protocols will be in place for the fall semester?
The college will review our current COVID-19 health and safety protocols throughout the summer. We will update these based on federal guidelines and state regulations and expect to have more specific information to share by August at the latest.

Will COVID vaccines be required by the fall for students?
Yes. Smith College will require all undergraduate and graduate students to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 prior to returning to campus for the fall 2021 semester. Students should verify that they are fully vaccinated prior to their fall 2021 arrival by uploading vaccine records to the Schacht Center’s confidential patient portal. Instructions can be found on the center’s website. As with other required vaccinations, requests for medical or religious exemptions will be reviewed and accommodated on a case-by-case basis. The college will help international students or others who cannot get a U.S.-approved full vaccination prior to arrival to meet this requirement. Smith will have additional details about the overall return-to-campus process, including the vaccination requirement, by mid-June.

Will COVID vaccines be required by the fall for employees?
Smith strongly urges all members of our staff and faculty who are eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine to get vaccinated as soon as possible. The college is considering requiring the vaccine for the fall, subject to medical and religious exemptions. If the college elects to require the vaccine, staff and faculty will be given as much notice as possible.

NEW What is the status of study abroad for Fall 2021? 
The Office for International Study is offering conditional approval for study abroad in a limited number of countries. This decision is based on an extensive review of the pandemic risk for study abroad, which includes an assessment of each program’s COVID-19 contingency plans and protocols, refund policies, academic continuity guarantees and coronavirus precautions in program-regulated housing. Continued approval of these destinations is contingent upon ongoing monitoring of COVID-19 public health metrics and indications that the risk is low or moderate based on global health criteria.

What does in-person instruction mean?
Classes will be held on campus in classrooms, labs, studios and other facilities.

Will the college be flexible in allowing gap years for admitted students?
Smith allows students to request a gap year or semester (for fall 2022 or January 2022 entrance). Requests should be sent to by June 1. Students requesting a gap year or semester should include a plan for their semester or year with their request.

Will all students be invited back to campus in the fall?
Yes, we are planning for a fully in-person fall, and we plan to invite all students back to campus.

Will students have the choice to attend in-person or remotely as they did this spring?
No. All students will be expected to attend in person.

If pandemic conditions force a change of plans before the semester begins, will the college reimburse students for travel expenses?
No. The college is unable to reimburse students for travel expenses and encourages all students to book flexible, refundable travel in the event that pandemic conditions worsen.

As we return to a fully in-person fall semester, we expect that the vast majority of students will live on campus.

Will students be required to live on campus?
We expect all students to return to on-campus living unless they have been granted off-campus approval through the Off-Campus Lottery or Petition to Live Off-Campus processes managed by Residence Life, confirmed for study away/abroad programs or granted a leave of absence.

Will all students live in singles?
Residences will return to their traditional density.

How can students request housing accommodations?
All returning students with housing accommodations will be required to complete the Housing Accommodations Form (HAF), which will be available on Residence Life Self-Service on April 5 and must be completed no later than Sunday, April 18, at 11:59 p.m. Eastern. If you need to seek a housing accommodation through the Office of Disability Services and do not already have one on file, you must complete all meetings with ODS by April 16, 2021. If you are not approved by April 16, we will work with you on next steps.

When will I receive my housing assignment?
Rising sophomores, juniors and seniors will select their housing through our annual Room Draw process. New students will receive their room assignments in early August.

Since I was assigned to a new house for spring 2021, am I guaranteed a room in my preferred house for fall 2021?
Returning students must complete the Room Draw House Request Form, which will go live on Monday, April 19 at 10 a.m. Eastern, on the Residence Life Self-Service page. Only the following students are exempt from the requirement to complete this form: those assigned a room through an accommodation process with the Office of Disability Services or through a special lottery process (affinity housing, co-op housing, substance-free housing, the Friedman apartment complex, off-campus housing and Ada Comstock Scholars.).

The Room Draw House Request Form will replace both the Remain in House and Change of House forms from previous years. The Room Draw House Request Form will allow students to select up to five house preferences, from which they will be assigned to a house for room selection. Due to anticipated higher than normal enrollment, we are unable to guarantee that students will be able to return to their current or last assigned house, including students returning from leave. We will do our best to assign students based on their preferences, prioritizing house assignments according to class year (assigning rising-seniors first, then rising-juniors, then rising-sophomores).

How do I apply to live off-campus?
Students may continue to request an official off-campus housing assignment via the Off-Campus Lottery (rising seniors only) and Petition to Live-Off-Campus (all class years). Each group will receive a modest increase of spaces available for those who apply through Residence Life, although spaces will continue to be limited. Students who apply for off-campus housing through the Petition to Live Off-Campus must meet certain criteria (e.g., be living at home within 20 miles of campus, be married or in a civil union, have a substantial change to financial status, have a medical/mental health need approved by ODS or be experiencing extenuating circumstances) for approval. Further documentation to support your request may be required. Entering first-year students and rising sophomores are rarely approved.

Is the college adjusting its pricing structure for 2021–22 in response to COVID-19?

How much will room and board cost for the fall? How much will tuition cost?
Tuition, housing and meal costs are available via Student Financial Services.

Will staff and faculty return to on-campus work?
Yes. Staff and faculty will be expected to return to on-campus work before the fall semester begins. The process and timeline will be communicated over the summer.

Who should employees contact if they have questions or concerns regarding the return to work process?
As always, employees should work with their supervisors and the Office of Human Resources to discuss workplace concerns.