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A Culture of Care
Read Smith’s plans for the fall 2020 semester
and the college’s ongoing response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Smith College A Culture of Care

Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

Last Updated: August 3, 2020

Will students or employees be asked to sign a liability waiver to return to campus?
No. Students and employees will, however, be asked to acknowledge that they have read the Statement of Shared Responsibility, have completed the Health Guidelines Training as part of the college's return-to-campus procedures and agree to follow all safety measures. 

Should I wear a face covering?
Yes. Smith College is now requiring that face coverings be worn on campus at all times. The only exceptions are for students in their individual rooms and for employees in their individual offices.

Will masks or approved face coverings be provided to students and employees?
Yes. All on-campus Smith-campus community members may receive masks or approved face coverings upon request. Students will be provided with one reusable mask then they arrive on campus. Students should also bring additional reusable face coverings with them. Employees approved to work on campus can request masks or approved face coverings by contacting covid19info@smith.edu. Single-use masks will be available throughout the campus for those who need them.

What if I am unable to wear a mask or face covering due to a documented health issue?
Students who are unable to wear a mask or face covering due to a documented health issue should contact the Schacht Center for guidance. Employees who are unable to wear a mask due to a documented health issue should contact human resources.

Will hand sanitizer be provided for students and employees?
Yes. Hand sanitizing stations will be placed throughout the campus. Everyone will be expected to wash or sanitize hands at every transition from one space to another.

How will on-campus spaces be sanitized?
Campus houses will be disinfected twice a day, every day. Classrooms and learning spaces will be disinfected daily, five days a week. In addition, a disinfecting team will be deployed to clean high-touch surfaces and areas throughout campus. Employees and students will also be asked to support disinfection and cleaning efforts using college-provided supplies.

What should I do if I think I have COVID-19?
According to the CDC, the most common symptoms of COVID-19 include fever or chills, coughing, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting, and diarrhea. Symptoms may appear within two days of exposure and vary in severity from person to person. We encourage all students, staff and faculty to complete this Daily Symptom Checklist before attending class or work each day, and stay at home or in your room, and follow the symptoms and reporting guidelines.

What should students, faculty and staff do to minimize the risk of transmitting the disease on campus?
The college strongly recommends following CDC prevention guidelines, including:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Stay home unless procuring essential items (groceries, medicine).
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.

How is the college planning for a potential outbreak of COVID-19?
The college’s response to COVID-19 is being led by the COVID-19 incident response team, which is meeting daily to set policies for and issue operational guidance to the Smith community in response to the disease.

Will my Smith-provided health insurance change?
No. There will be no changes to the college-provided insurance coverage. Students must accept the health insurance if they do not have a comparable plan. There will be a “waiver” option each semester.  Students learning remotely will have the option to enroll or waive the Smith health insurance. More information will be sent out about this process shortly.

Will the Schacht Center for Health and Wellness be open for non-COVID-19 related appointments?
The Schacht Center will be available for all regular medical and counseling support needs.

If I am an international student, will Smith's student health insurance cover me in my home country?
Yes, but it will be considered "out-of-network." As such, any claims will be covered at 80% of usual and customary charges. There is also a $300 deductible for out-of-network providers. Blue Cross Blue Shield does also have a global network of providers. Visit BCBS - Global Core to search for doctors around the world. This link is also available at Smith's home page on www.gallagherstudent.com under "Find a doc."

Does the college have a quarantine protocol in place?
Yes. The college’s emergency plans include a pandemic protocol that covers, among other contingencies, the need for various modes of on-campus quarantine.

What options has Smith made available for international students in light of recent ICE guidance on remote coursework?
International students, along with U.S. residents or citizens residing outside the U.S., may be granted exceptions to study abroad locally at universities or programs in their home countries and to apply for transfer of the credits to Smith.

Will I have to re-register for all classes?
No. Students should check their schedules on BannerWeb to see which courses have been canceled or rescheduled. Reregistration is only required for courses that do not appear as registered or web registered. 

Are there changes to the fall catalog?
Yes. As faculty have spent the summer reconfiguring their courses, updated course offerings will be posted to the online course catalog and BannerWeb by August.

How can students find out which classes are canceled, being taught fully remotely or are multi-modal? 
Students’ advisers have the latest information on courses. Courses are being updated now, and the finalized offerings will be available via the online course catalog by August 1. The instructional method of each course will be included in the course detail.

Are students limited to only taking 12 credits in the fall?
No. The limit is 20 credits in the fall and a total limit of 24 across fall and interterm. 

Will the school still have the add/drop period and the change of grading options (letter grade to S/U)? If so, what’s the timeline for that?
Yes. There will be a two-week add/drop period, Tuesday–Monday, September 1–14. The change of grading option (S/U) for full semester Smith courses can be elected until Monday, November 2. Check the registrar's website for all registration Dates and Deadlines.

When will students be able to access physical library books?
Students access will begin before the start of the fall semester. All details will be posted on the Libraries' COVID-19 webpage.

If a student is invited to be in residence, can they choose to study remotely instead?
Yes. Any student may choose to study remotely without penalty. 

Can students in residence choose to attend courses remotely?
Yes.

Will the spring semester mandatory S/U grading policy be carried into the fall?
No. Courses will no longer be mandatory S/U.

Can students attend Five College classes?
Yes, however, the Five College institutions have decided that students may enroll in interchange courses remotely only. Students will have access to the updated Five College course offerings by August 1 and may request Five College courses via BannerWeb during the August 10-14 registration.

Will the six-week January/February interterm be offered in person?
No. Interterm courses will be offered fully remotely. Four-credit courses will be offered in addition to 1- and 2-credit courses. Students may register for a maximum of 6 credits during interterm, but may not exceed a combined total of 24 credits in fall 2020 and interterm 2021.

Will any classes be automatically closed to students studying remotely?
A very small number of in-person-only, performance-based courses may be offered in such departments as dance, exercise and sport studies, and theatre. A wide variety of multimodal and fully remote performance courses will be available to students as well.

How can students in different time zones participate in remote learning?
Courses will be scheduled to increase access to real-time participation to the extent possible. Additionally, many courses will include a blend of synchronous and asynchronous activity to enable students in different time zones to engage in coursework.

How will classroom spaces adapt to new public health guidance?
In following the college’s COVID-19 control plan, all learning spaces will be modified to permit 45–55 square feet per person, to promote distancing. Classroom spaces will meet these guidelines by relocating to larger spaces (e.g., the Carroll Room, the Conference Center and more). Additionally, classrooms will spread out available seating and, wherever possible, establish dedicated entrances and exits.

How will courses with hands-on elements adapt to multimodal teaching and the need for physical distancing?
Each faculty member will develop a plan to maximize learning opportunities for both in-person and remote students. For example, some courses will consist of remote lectures and small, in-person “tutorials.” Some courses will assign alternating groups of students to attend in person on alternating days. Some lab-based courses will break large groups into smaller cohorts, enabling every student to have hands-on learning with fewer person-to-person contacts.

Will all courses have in-person learning components?
No. Faculty may choose to teach courses fully remotely.


Deferment and Leave questions

How can students request a leave of absence due to COVID-19?
Students may apply for a personal leave of absence this fall by completing the leave of absence form and submitting it to classdeans@smith.edu.  

Can students take a semester leave or do they need to take a full year? 
Students can take a single semester as a personal leave. If you have questions about taking a personal leave of absence, please the Class Deans webpage.

Will students who take a semester personal leave have the option to be enrolled in the Smith health plan?
Students on personal leave will not be charged and will not be able to enroll in the Smith health insurance plan. Smith health insurance will be available once the student returns from personal leave.

What is the risk of not getting approved for personal leave? Will the number of leaves granted be capped?
As long as a student has not been on two consecutive leaves, the student can pursue a personal leave. There are no caps on leaves.

Will there be any penalty for taking a leave of absence? Do students keep their housing assignment and priority? Will they lose their financial aid?
If you are approved to take a personal leave, you will not be penalized.  

How are STRIDE/other scholarships handled with a leave of absence? 
Merit-based awards will continue upon a student’s return.

What kind of events will Smith have in the fall?
Smith will consider a range of options for engagement, including virtual events and small gatherings that meet public health guidelines. Offerings will include:

  • Re-imagined versions of keystone Smith events—the Draper Competition, for example—that will take place in a virtual space
  • Online presentations by Presidential Colloquia speakers and other speakers
  • New formats for longstanding events and college traditions, including Opening Convocation, Cromwell Day and Mountain Day

In addition, student leaders will be trained in how to create effective events for smaller groups, or how to create virtual events for larger groups.

Will Mountain Day happen for the fall semester?
Yes!

Will there be clubs? Big Sibs/Little Sibs?
Yes. In consultation with student leaders, Student Life will be developing guidance on how students can gather in a socially distanced manner and/or remotely.

Will Smith’s student activities fee be the same?
The student activities fee is determined by Smith’s Student Government Association (SGA). The SGA will address fall fees shortly.

Will my mail be forwarded?
Mail Services is requesting that all students verify their current mailing address. If changes need to be made, please email registrar@smith.edu. This will ensure that all first-class mail can be forwarded to the correct address if you are not on campus. Please review the guidelines on the Smith College Mail Services website for additional information.

Can students in residence travel outside of Northampton?
Students in residence are limited to a travel radius of 10 miles from campus for essential travel only. Urgent travel needs outside this radius should be brought to the attention of reslife@smith.edu.

What is the impact on athletics programs and facilities?
Please see the athletics page for guidelines and details.

What has changed with dining spaces, menus and hours?
Please see the dining page for guidelines and details.


Cultural and Community Connection Spaces

What spaces are considered “cultural and community connection” spaces?
Cultural and community connection spaces include house common rooms and house kitchens, as well as the Mwangi Cultural Center, Unity House, Helen Hills Hills Chapel spaces, the Kosher Kitchen and the Resource Center for Sexuality and Gender.

Will cultural and community spaces be available in the fall?
Spaces for connecting in community are important, so Smith has established special guidelines under which these spaces can be available.

  • A limited number of monitored spaces will be available for student use.  
  • These spaces will be available only with a reservation.
  • To ensure appropriate physical distancing, these spaces will have new, lower capacity counts.
  • Seating will be arranged to ensure appropriate physical distancing.

Can students change the decision they gave on the July 15th form? 
By indicating their decision to study remotely or be in residence, students make it clear how many additional rooms will be available for students who wish to be in residence. If students wish to change their decision, they should contact classdeans@smith.edu and their major adviser.

How can students access items they left in storage?
Please see the information in this July 13, 2020, letter

Can families assist students during move-in? 
Yes. Students may have two non-Smith guests assist them during move-in so long as masks or approved face coverings are worn and physical distancing is strictly maintained. 

How do I get to Smith from the Airport?
Transportation to Smith from the Boston or Hartford airports is available from a number of services. The listing of area taxi and transportation services on the following link does not imply an endorsement by Smith College of any of these businesses. Advance reservations may be required. Visit the directions to Smith page for more information. 

How did you determine which groups of students would be invited to be in residence?
We want to ensure that every student has the opportunity to study on campus at least one semester of academic year 2020–21. Because health and safety must be our highest priority, we established the maximum number of students we could safely have in residence on campus at any one time while maintaining strict physical distancing. That figure was informed by:

  • The choice to house each student in separate, single rooms.
  • Recommendations from the Massachusetts “Safe on Campus” framework regarding housing density and dedicated isolation space. 

Inviting first-years and sophomores (and January graduates) to be in residence in the fall, and juniors and seniors in the spring, helps faculty in planning to offer a coherent curriculum that meets the needs of those cohorts. As noted, there will be some exceptions for students with extraordinary academic or personal circumstances.

Which students fall under the category of “students with extraordinary circumstances”?
Students whose home lives are not conducive to learning; who cannot return home because of travel restrictions; or whose research has been determined to require an in-person element may apply for an residency exception via a form that will be sent to students in early July.

To apply for permission to live on campus this fall due to exceptional circumstances, please complete the “Fall 2020 Exceptional Circumstances Return Request Form” located in Residence Life Self-Service under “Applications and Forms” on the Smith portal.  This form must be completed by 11:59 p.m. EST on Wednesday, July 15. 

Who are the student leaders who will be invited to be in residence?
The college will extend residency invitations to select Heads of New Students (HONS), residence life student staff, student public health leaders and Student Government Association cabinet members. Student Academic Advisers (SAA's) will be in residence according to the college's residency plan (i.e., sophomore SAA's in the fall, and junior and senior SAA's in the spring).

Can Ada Comstock Scholars living off campus attend in person both semesters?
Yes. Adas living off campus may access on-campus resources and classes during both semesters so long as they follow the mandatory COVID-19 testing requirement. 

May graduate students remain in on-campus graduate housing during college breaks?
Yes. 44 Green Street (and Henshaw A-1) remain open for the full year.

When will housing assignments for fall 2020 be made?
Housing assignments will be made in early August.  

Will affinity housing continue for fall 2020?
Yes.

May I remain on campus over break or if the college needs to close campus housing?
Students who need to remain on campus through scheduled breaks or unscheduled interruptions may apply to do so; these cases will depend on travel restrictions and safety considerations. On-campus space will be very limited and available only to those with extenuating circumstances. Please contact reslife@smith.edu with questions. 

Can students have visitors in on-campus housing?
Houses are open only to Smith College students in residence—no off-campus visitors are allowed under any circumstances. Guests who are Smith College students in residence are allowed in other students’ rooms so long as they are following physical distancing guidelines. A maximum of two guests are allowed in one room at a time. No overnight guests—including other Smith students—are allowed.

Can students in residence travel off campus?
Off-campus travel must be limited to a radius of 10 miles from campus and reserved for essential needs only. Urgent travel needs outside this radius should be brought to the attention of reslife@smith.edu. Please note that the city of Northampton, like Smith, requires that masks or approved face coverings be worn in public at all times

Will we have house teas and other house events?
Yes, in a modified format.

Will I be able to use my house common room?
Yes, with advance preparation.

  • House common rooms will be open only to members of the Smith community.
  • Like other connection spaces, common rooms will only be open if monitoring is ensured.
  • Furniture will be arranged to encourage required physical distancing.
  • Masks or approved face coverings will be required.

What happens if I get sick? Will I stay in my own room?
In keeping with CDC guidelines, the college will follow a special protocol for ill students requiring isolation or quarantine in dedicated housing.


Local, Off-Campus Students

Do I need approval to live off-campus?
Yes. Students who wish to live off campus but access on-campus resources must receive approval from the Office of Residence Life. Applications for off-campus residency are now closed. Please contact reslife@smith.edu with questions. 

What on-campus spaces may I access if I’m living off campus?
Students approved to live off campus can participate in in-person classes and access academic and public space on campus. 

Do local, off-campus students have access to Smith-provided COVID testing?
Local, off-campus students participating in in-person classes or using on-campus resources will be required to follow the same protocol for testing that on-campus students do.

Can off-campus students use the on-campus dining plan?
With the purchase of a Board Plan, local off-campus students will have the same access to Smith’s dining plan as on-campus students do.

Will local, off-campus students have access to the Schacht Center for Health and Wellness?
Yes.

Will local, off-campus students have access to on-campus isolation spaces if they test positive for COVID-19?
If space is available, yes.

 


Dining

How will students order food?
Using an app, students can browse menus and order food. The app will allow students to choose from a variety of customizable menus, see current wait times and available pick-up times, and receive a notification when their meal is ready.

Can students order from any location?
Yes. Students can order from any open residential dining location with the exception of Dawes House, which will continue to be gluten-free and available only to students registered with the Office of Disability Services.

How many meal orders per day can be placed?
Students on the dining plan can submit up to three orders per day.

What are the hours of service for dining?
Dining hours will be extended to allow more time for meal pick up and accommodate the takeout model. Breakfast will be served from 7:30 to 9:30 a.m. Lunch will be served from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Dinner will be served from 5 to 8 p.m.

How can students access food between dining hours?
Packages of tea, snacks and fresh fruit will be dropped off at each house once per week. Additionally, each student’s meal plan will include $125 of dining dollars to be used at the Campus Center Café.

What menus will be available?
Each dining hall will have a single, consistent menu throughout the semester with occasional specials.

How will food be served to go?
Meals will be served to go in reusable containers through an expansion of the existing grab-and-go program. Each meal will be packaged in a reusable container that can be returned to any dining location for cleaning, sanitizing and reuse. Each container is rated for 300 uses before being recycled.

How far in advance can students order a meal?
The ordering window for each meal period opens approximately 15 minutes before the meal period begins. Students can select any pick-up time available within the app.

How will dietary restrictions be accommodated?
Dining services will continue to offer accomodations for all dietary needs.

What health and safety protocols will be in place to protect students and dining employees?
Face coverings will be required for all dining services staff, and physical distancing procedures will be implemented in accordance with public health guidelines. Additional personal protective equipment (PPE), including face shields, will be required for some employees. Dining rooms will be fully disinfected between meals and have dedicated entrances and exits with one-way traffic patterns and floor markers to ensure 6-foot distancing between patrons. Dishwashing machines will be checked for proper temperature and chemicals every hour, and machines will be drained and cleaned every 30 minutes when in high use. Returned serviceware will be scraped and sent through the dishwasher once for sanitizing before being sprayed or scrubbed and washed in the machine a second time.

Will catering be available for students or employees?
No. Catering operations will be suspended for the fall semester.

Can any employee work on campus if they choose to?
No. Only employees whose positions have been deemed critical to perform on-campus work may return to campus. These employees must request authorization to return. To initiate this request, employees should submit the Return to Campus form (Smith login required). Once approved to return to campus, the employee will receive communication from the Office of Human Resources with instructions on additional requirements that they must complete before they are able to return to work on campus.

If an employee is required to be on campus for work, what training must be completed before returning?
On-campus employees must complete community health guidelines training, which is being developed by the Office of Human Resources. After completing this training, employees must sign a statement of shared responsibility verifying that they have finished the training and understand community health guidelines.

How can I submit a COVID-19–related accommodation request?
Employees can request accommodations using this form (Smith login required).

Can an employee not required to be on campus for work visit campus?
No. Employees who have not been approved for on-campus work may not enter any campus buildings. Public walkways through campus, however, remain open so long as masks or approved face coverings are worn and physical distancing is maintained. If an employee needs to visit campus but is not required to work on campus, they must get approval from their supervisor. The supervisor will initiate the Return to Campus form and inform the employee whether they are approved to visit campus.

Can an employee not approved for on-campus work use campus athletic facilities?
No.

Can employees use kitchenettes and common spaces in their office buildings?
Yes, under the following restrictions. Capacity must be set at a low enough level to permit physical distancing. For most spaces, this will be limited to one individual at a time. To encourage physical distancing, chairs should be removed from common spaces. Shared food or community items, including coffee makers, tea kettles, mugs and silverware must be removed. No items should be left in kitchenettes overnight. Any equipment (including sink handles) must be sanitized before and after use.

Will on-campus employees be tested for COVID-19?
Yes. Testing protocols are in development and will be announced to employees as soon as they are finalized.

What if I am unable to wear a mask or face covering due to a documented medical condition?
Employees should contact the Office of Human Resources for guidance on this issue. Employees can initiate this process by completing the Faculty/Staff COVID-related Accommodation Request form.

What will happen if I do not follow the return to work guidance?
Failure to meet or uphold these requirements could lead to corrective action up to and including termination from the college.

What if I am concerned about returning to work?
Discuss your concerns with your supervisor regarding the return to work plan. You may also contact human resources for additional information.

What if I am part of the CDC-defined high-risk population?
If an employee has an underlying medical condition that makes them more susceptible to serious illness from COVID-19, they should contact the Office of Human Resources. Human resources and the manager will reach out to the employee to discuss ways to safely return to work. If no resolution can be determined and the employee cannot work from home, the Office of Human Resources will determine if other COVID-related accommodations can be provided, including any paid or unpaid leave options.

What if I have an immediate family member with an underlying medical condition that makes them more susceptible to serious illness from COVID-19?
Where possible, the college encourages employees to work with their manager to enable working from home. For work that cannot be performed from home, the college has implemented protocols and policies to reduce the risk of transmission on campus. Employees with family members at high risk should be hypervigilant, practice rigorous hygiene and take every precaution to protect at-risk family members. Employees whose work cannot be performed from home and who do not wish to return to campus to work because of an at-risk family member can request leave time. That employee must return to work when their vacation time is exhausted.  If that employee’s family member is ill with a serious medical condition, the employee should contact human resources to determine eligibility for Family Medical Leave or Pandemic Leave.

What should I do if I am exposed to a person who is confirmed or presumed positive for COVID-19?
Employees who are exposed to a person with COVID-19 should stay home and call their supervisors. In general, close contact involves living in the same household as a sick person, caring for a sick person or being within 6 feet of a sick person for a period of 10–30 minutes or more. Managers, in turn, should notify the Schacht Center and the human resources department. Employees will be asked to provide a note from their doctor indicating the recommended period of self-isolation, which is generally up to 14 days. Employees will work with human resources to determine eligibility for a medical leave.

What if I believe that I contracted COVID-19 at work?
If an employee believes they have contracted COVID-19 in the course of their employment, they should stay home, notify their manager immediately and fill out the First Report of Injury form. A member of the human resources team will follow up, as soon as the report is received, to discuss next steps.

Will there be changes to the holiday calendar since classes will be held during the fall break?
Labor Day and Thanksgiving break will remain on the calendar. The staff fall break holiday and recess period from October 12 through 13 will not take place this year. Classes will be held on a normal schedule, and employees will follow their normal work schedule. The winter break will be extended by two days: Monday, December 21, and Tuesday, December 22, will be added to make up for the time.

Do employees still have to purchase parking passes?
A parking permit will be required for any employee who works on campus. There is no charge for the 2020–21 permit. As usual, all employees will be expected to park in designated areas on campus.

What happens if my position requires me to return to work, but I am unable to because of childcare needs or other COVID-19–related issues?
Employees should discuss their individual work situations with their supervisors and the human resources department to explore flexible scheduling. In those cases where alternative arrangements are not possible, employees can work with human resources to determine options and eligibility for a potential leave of absence.

Can employees required to work on campus bring children to campus?
No. Children are not permitted in the workplace, especially during the pandemic. Off-campus visitors are not permitted in any Smith building.

How should I enter my time in Workday?
The college has created a new way to enter your time in Workday. These changes ensure that Smith can continue to pay employees and simultaneously provide data to help our HR team understand the impact of COVID-19 on employees’ pay and time-off banks. Please visit the Workday help site for job aids and a flowchart to help determine how to enter time and time-off on your timesheets.

What if I have a sick family member?
Employees who are well but are caring for a family member at home with a confirmed case of COVID-19 should notify their supervisors, follow CDC recommended precautions, stay at home and contact the Office of Human Resources about potential leave options.

How are employees' benefits affected during the furlough period?
Benefit information for furloughed employees can be found on the HR website.

What if I suspect a coworker is a member of a high-risk population and susceptible to serious illness?
Employees are entitled to protections against discrimination based upon age, disability and a number of other protected categories. Such conduct could implicate the college’s Equal Employment Opportunity/Affirmative Action policy. Others should not presume to determine if someone is in a high-risk category. Each employee should assess their own health with their health-care provider to determine if they believe it is safe to come to work. If a co-worker learns of a high-risk factor for a co-worker, they should maintain confidentiality about that information, only reporting it to the Office of Human Resources or a supervisor.

What if I become ill with COVID-19 and my sick time accrual is already depleted or becomes depleted during my time off?
Employees who have depleted their sick leave balances will have the ability to take additional sick time as needed without penalty. For other health-related absences, employees should follow regular procedures for using their sick time and requesting a leave of absence.

How long are furloughs expected to last?
As noted in President McCartney’s May 20 letter, we hope that it will be safe for students to return to campus in the fall. When we know more about the fall semester, we will re-evaluate furlough decisions. Managers will stay in active contact with furloughed employees, and we will keep the community informed of our planning.


Manager Guidance

What if one of my employees believes that they contracted COVID-19 at work?
If an employee believes they have contracted COVID-19 in the course and scope of their employment, they should notify their manager immediately. You are responsible for helping them fill out the First Report of Injury form and submitting it to the Office of Human Resources immediately. A member of the HR team will follow up, as soon as the report is received, to discuss next steps.

Is there still a hiring freeze?
A staff hiring freeze was announced in March and will remain in effect for the foreseeable future. Any exceptions, which will be very limited (e.g., grant- or endowment-funded staff), will require approval from the cabinet and Position Justification Committee. 

What should I do if I have an employee who is afraid to return to work?
It is important to be sensitive and compassionate during these unprecedented times. When addressing an employee’s fear of returning to work due to safety concerns, the manager should reinforce that the college is maintaining and enforcing all recommended guidelines by the CDC and other reputable agencies, including how to handle employees exposed to the coronavirus. The college will regularly communicate and consistently enforce safety standards such as routine cleaning, physical distancing, regular monitoring, and any recommended or required PPE (personal protective equipent). Employees will be able to bring safety concerns to the college's attention using Ethicspoint, and their concerns will be immediately addressed.

If, after reviewing the circumstances, the employee continues to refuse to work, and work is available to them, please consult the Office of Human Resources to determine options available to the employee.

What should I do if I have an employee who is not following the Return to Campus policy?
The college will take corrective action in cases where employees do not follow safety guidelines. Managers are required to notify the Office of Human Resources if an employee that they supervise is out of compliance with the Return to Campus policy. Managers should support employees who cannot follow safety guidelines because of a certified medical accommodation, by connecting them with the Office of Human Resources to start the interactive accommodation process.

What if one of my employees comes to work sick?
Employees who come to work sick should be directed to complete the Health Monitoring Daily Checklist with their supervisor and follow the guidance. If the employee is not exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19, but is exhibiting other symptoms of illness, managers should send the employee home and direct them to return to work when they have recovered.

Will further budget cuts be necessary?
We continue to assess the impacts of the pandemic on the college’s finances. As has been noted in other forums, we have already worked to close a $27 million budget gap in the fiscal year 2021 operating budget. We will take a phased approach to further actions by assessing impacts on the college’s major revenue sources—net student income, endowment income and philanthropic gifts—as more information becomes available.


Manager Guidance: Approving Time Off

How far in advance should vacation requests be made?
You should set a deadline to receive vacation requests. This will help you plan for adequate staffing and ensure that your department will be disrupted minimally during busy periods.

Under what circumstances can I deny a time-off request?
If your department is experiencing a particularly high volume of work, you can deny a time-off request for operational reasons or consider letting your employee take off less time than they have requested. As a manager, it is your right to say no to a request if the needs of the department require everyone's efforts. In conveying the denial to your employee, you should explain your reasons and listen to the employee’s needs and concerns. Try to find a resolution that works for the employee and the department.

How can I be flexible about a request?
If a longer vacation isn’t possible, you could approve a personal or vacation day so that your employee can extend a weekend or to take a day off during the week. If it works for your department operationally, you could approve a flexible schedule that provides room to begin or end the day earlier or later, or you could consider letting the employee take off half days for a specific period of time.

What if two employees have requested time off for the same period?
It is important that you maintain consistency and transparency in the employee time off decision-making process to avoid claims of discrimination. If you find yourself constantly denying a certain employee time off because of a function only they can fulfill, it may be time to train someone else to do that job as well.

What if I’m having trouble resolving time-off issues in my department?
Reach out to your human resources business partner to discuss.

What is the expected financial impact of COVID-19 on the college’s FY21 budget, beginning July 1, 2020?
The global pandemic is affecting our endowment and constraining two additional—and sizable—revenue sources: net student income and philanthropic gifts. Enrollment could be limited by international travel restrictions, students’ and families’ financial needs are expected to grow, and donors may not have as much capacity to donate to Smith. In light of these revenue constraints, we will likely need to reduce our budget by 10–15% ($25–35 million). The specific figure will depend largely on the duration of physical distancing requirements and the implications of those requirements on residential colleges like Smith. 

What actions has the college already taken to reduce spending?
The college has taken several actions, including suspending nearly all capital projects, providing no salary increases through the end of the calendar year, implementing a hiring freeze with rare exceptions for faculty and staff positions that are deemed critical for the college, and more as outlined in the April 20 letter from the President and the Vice President for Finance and Administration.

Is the college adjusting its pricing structure for 2020–21 in response to COVID-19?
Yes. In recognition of the financial burdens that COVID-19 has imposed on students and families, we have taken two key actions. We have increased financial aid to help offset the impacts of the pandemic, and we have rolled back our planned tuition increase. Further, we have prorated fall room and board charges to reflect the shorter fall semester on campus. We remain committed to meeting every Smith student’s full demonstrated financial need and to reviewing each student’s award if their financial circumstances have changed. 

Will student bills and financial aid letters be sent before students have to make a decision on whether or not they will be in residence in the fall?
Unfortunately, bills and aid notifications cannot be sent until students have indicated their room and board decisions. 

How much will room and board cost for the fall? How much will tuition cost?
Our tuition, room and board are updated for first-year students on the admission page and for sophmores, juniors and seniors at Student Financial Services

Will students be able to have on-campus jobs?
Every student with work-study expectations in their financial aid packet will have a job. Work-study requirements have been decreased to 50% so that students may complete their work study during the semester they are on campus. Smith is also working to make remote work study options available.

When will bills be due?
The due date for bills has been extended. Students will receive financial aid award letters after the July 15 enrollment deadline. The bill will be due on Monday, August 10, but a grace period is being offered until Tuesday, August 25.

Is there an additional charge for the interterm session?
No. Courses offered during interterm are included in the fall tuition. 

Why is the college not reducing its 2020–21 tuition beyond the 2019–20 rate?
Throughout 2020–21, whether working in person or remotely, our faculty and staff will continue to teach and support students with the dedication and individual attention that has long been a hallmark of the Smith experience. Our students will continue to graduate with a degree that retains its value and with the capacities and skills for lifelong success. 

What adjustments will be made to financial aid packages to reflect the change in the college’s operations?
For students on financial aid, we have made two important adjustments for 2020–21. We have increased the allowance for personal expenses by $2,000 per year, regardless of whether the student is residing on or near campus or at home, and we have reduced the work-study earnings expectation by 50 percent. 

Where can I find details about Smith's participation in the CARES Act?
Detailed reporting is available here.

Was Smith able to access additional federal funding under the CARES Act?
Yes. In passing the CARES act, the federal government allotted each college and university funding to award directly to students whose lives and studies have been disrupted by COVID-19. Under the act, Smith College was awarded $1,059,948 to distribute to affected students.

Which students were eligible to receive CARES Act funds? 
Undergraduate and graduate students enrolled at Smith through the spring 2020 semester who had filed a valid FAFSA demonstrating eligibility for Title IV funds and whose estimated family contribution did not exceed $75,000 were eligible.

How much did eligible students receive in CARES Act funding?
Eligible students received a one-time payment of $630 via direct deposit or a check mailed to their address on file.
 
Sinces CARES Act funding only applied to domestic students, how did Smith support international and undocumented students? 

In accordance with Smith’s commitment to equity, the college used its own funds to provide equal assistance to every eligible international or undocumented student.

What is the status of 2020-21 study-abroad programs?
All study-abroad programs for fall 2020 have been canceled. A decision has not been made yet for spring 2021.

What options has Smith made available for international students in light of recent ICE guidance on remote coursework?
International students, along with U.S. residents or citizens residing outside the U.S., may be granted exceptions to study abroad locally at universities or programs in their home countries and to apply for transfer of the credits to Smith.

Are there any changes to the approval process for study abroad that starts in spring 2021?
No decisions about spring study abroad have been made. However, as long as the U.S. Department of State keeps its Global Level-4 Health Advisory in place, the college will be unable to support study abroad. Because of this, the study-abroad approval process has been delayed. The college will continue to monitor the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Travel Recommendations. Study abroad will not be approved in any country where a CDC level-3 Travel Health Notice remains in place. Should the global situation improve, the Office for International Study will proceed to notify students of their study abroad approval.