Read Smith’s UPDATED plans as of November 23, 2020,
for the spring 2021 semester.
Frequently Asked Questions
Frequently Asked Questions
Last Updated: November 24, 2020
Spring 2021 Plan
Please note: The content on this page refers to Smith’s current plan for the fall 2020 semester.
Smith College is preparing to welcome students back to campus for the spring 2021 semester, and has announced measures and guidelines help to promote a safe and healthy campus environment.
What led Smith to make the decision to change their fall plans?
Public health data, both at the national and state levels, indicated a rise in coronavirus infections and an increasing need to take significant actions to help prevent the spread of the disease. Additionally, as President McCartney wrote in her letter, “By limiting the number of students and employees on campus, we will mitigate the potential exposure of many people to the virus—not only those connected to Smith but also those living in the greater Northampton area.”
Will asymptomatic screening still be available to faculty, staff and students who are approved to be on campus?
Yes. Smith will continue to provide and require asymptomatic screening for employees and students on campus.
Will the Schacht Center still provide remote resources?
Yes, the Schacht Center for Health and Wellness will continue to provide accessible, remote mental, physical, disability and wellness services. Counseling Services will offer a variety of services to all students regardless of their proximity to campus. The type of service available to students is dictated by laws governing appropriate practice and scope of care across state lines. All students are eligible to participate in Schacht Center for Health and Wellness group programming online. Students who are off campus will have access to individual coaching sessions and support in finding local services. Students living in Massachusetts—whether on campus or not—will have access to individual therapy and support with any other needed services. Medical services will continue to be available for the limited number of enrolled students on campus.
Are indoor athletic facilities open to employees or students approved to be in residence on or near campus?
No. All indoor athletic facilities are closed for the semester. Outdoor athletic facilities, including the tennis courts and track, are open to any member of the Smith community—but remain closed to the public. Masks must be worn at all times and physical distancing must be practiced.
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 will agree to follow all safety measures.
Should I wear a mask or approved 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. Masks with exhalation / one-way valves and clear face shields are not approved face coverings.
Will masks or approved face coverings be provided to students and employees who are approved to be on campus?
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. Students should also have additional reusable face coverings. Employees approved to work on campus can request masks or approved face coverings by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org. 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 who are approved to be on campus?
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?
Once the college decides it is safe for students to return to campus, 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, 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 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
- Cover your mouth and nose with a mask or approved face covering when around others
- Avoid close contact maintaining at least 6 feet (2 meters) from other people whenever possible
- Cover coughs and sneezes
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces
- Monitor your health daily
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.
Is Smith College health insurance still available to students studying remotely?
Yes. Students who wish to switch to pre-existing coverage and opt out of the Smith College insurance plan can consult https://www.smith.edu/about-smith/sfs/student-health-insurance
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.
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.
How will remote instruction be different from last spring?
Smith’s move to a full-remote spring semester occurred in a short period of time, without advance preparation, and using the resources at hand. In contrast, faculty have now been working all summer with the Sherred Center for Teaching and Learning and the COVID-19 Digital Support team to develop and support robust, engaging teaching models tailored to remote delivery. Further, the move to a full-remote semester (vs. a multimodal semester with students learning both in-person and remotely) will allow faculty to focus their efforts on a single, consistent mode of delivery.
Will there be any changes to the academic calendar?
At this time, there are no further changes to the academic calendar.
Can community members or alumnae audit courses?
No. Auditors will not be permitted in courses for the 2020-21 academic year.
How can students request remote learning support?
Digital support requests for remote learning can be submitted via the COVID-19 Digital Support website by clicking the green “Request Help” button then click the “Submit COVID-19 Digital Support Request” button.
How can students find up to date course information?
Course information is available through the BannerWeb Browse Classes and Register for Classes views and the online Course Catalog/Course Search. The Course Catalog/Course Search updates automatically as changes are made in Banner.
Is there any change to the Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory (S/U) policy?
Yes. Due to continued disruption from the COVID-19 pandemic and changes to instruction and residency, a student will be allowed an additional 12 optional S/U credits for use during the 2020–21 academic year. A student may not carry these additional credits into future academic years, and students electing to take more than 12 optional S/U credits in 2020–21 will draw on the 16 credits provided in the Code. Students must declare the grading option by the last day of classes/instruction as defined on the official academic calendar.
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 courses offerings by August 1and may request Five College courses via BannerWeb during August 10–14 registration. https://www.fivecolleges.edu/academics/courses
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.
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.
Deferment and Leave
Can students defer their admission or take a leave of absence?
New students may request a deferral to enter Smith in fall 2021 by writing to the dean of admission at email@example.com by August 17. Deposits will be held for the following year. Returning students may apply for a personal leave of absence this fall by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org by August 28.
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 consult the Class Deans webpage.
Can I keep my Smith health insurance if I take a personal leave this fall?
Yes. A Continuation Plan has been made available due to the unique circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic. Please visit the Student Financial Services website for more information.
If I take a leave of absence in the fall, can I take January/February interterm classes?
No, the January/February interterm is part of the fall semester this year.
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.
If an entering first-year student defers, are they allowed to take classes at a local college in the meantime? Will those credits be transferred?
If students defer admission, they may take one or two courses locally. College credits earned before coming to Smith will not automatically count towards the 128 credits required to graduate. Courses that meet the criteria for pre-matriculation credit will appear on the transcript without credit but can still be used to count for pre-requisites or courses inside or outside the major. The registrar’s website provides detailed information.
If a current Smith student (not a first-year) takes a leave of absence, can they transfer courses from another college?
Courses must be pre-approved for transfer credit by the registrar’s office for domestic study or the Office of International Study for courses abroad.
How will this decision affect graduate and post-bacc students?
All graduate courses will be taught remotely. Graduate students currently living in campus housing may remain on campus and will be subject to the on-campus screening requirements and community health standards. No additional campus housing assignments will be made after August 5. Further information on graduate programs will be forthcoming.
Will the college be remote-only in the spring?
The college has not yet made a decision regarding the spring semester. If the college is able to have students in residence, seniors will be given priority.
How does this impact international students?
Under federal law, new students will not be able to obtain an F-1 visa since Smith’s academic program will be fully remote. International students may begin their Smith education remotely or request a deferral by contacting the dean of admission at email@example.com by August 17. Returning international students currently in the United States may remain in the country and study remotely. Any international student who takes a leave of absence must leave the United States.
Will co-curricular activities continue virtually?
Yes, the college will have a robust virtual engagement program for the fall semester. More information will be announced soon.
Will Mountain Day happen for the fall semester?
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 virtually.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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. https://www.smith.edu/about-smith/mail-services/for-students
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 email@example.com.
Will any students be invited to live on campus? Can students apply/appeal to be on campus?
All permissions for students approved to live on campus for fall semester have been rescinded. An extraordinarily small number of students—those who demonstrate a complete inability to meet academic and learning outcomes in their home environments and those whose legal residence is Smith College—may apply to be in residence. An application will be made available on August 10. Students currently on campus were contacted by residence life on August 6 regarding housing permissions. For those students approved to be in residence, including Ada Comstock Scholars, a limited dining option will be available.
How will this decision affect Ada Comstock Scholars using campus housing?
If an Ada has already been assigned housing on campus, that housing assignment will remain. No additional Adas will be assigned housing after August 5.
Will students living locally or approved to be in residence have access to campus learning resources?
No. All academic engagement will occur remotely, and all campus resources will be available through remote access only. Outdoor areas of the campus and the botanic garden remain open to the public. Campus buildings will remain open only to authorized faculty, staff and students.
How can students access items they left in storage?
Students can pick up their belongings by scheduling a date and time to access the trunk room via this form. You can also contract with Boomerang Moving and Storage who can either store your belongings for you or ship them to you.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Please note that the City of Northampton, like Smith, requires that masks or approved face coverings be worn in public at all times.
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.
Is the college adjusting its pricing structure for 2020–21 in response to COVID-19?
In all decisions related to planning around the pandemic, Smith is prioritizing the health and safety of community members. The college has taken steps to address cost and pricing issues. Specifically, 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.
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. Students with questions about financial aid are encouraged to contact email@example.com.
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.
If I have already paid my bill, will I get a refund for my room and board?
Yes, a full refund will be processed shortly. Please visit the Student Financial Services website for more information.
Will my financial aid be adjusted after the August 5 pivot?
If you have been approved to live on campus, your financial aid award will be adjusted to reflect that you will no longer be charged for room and board. This may or may not have an impact on your estimated family contribution. The additional $2,000 increase to the personal expense allowance remains intact for the full academic year.
Will the college reimburse travel or housing expenses for students who were planning on traveling to Smith in August?
Unfortunately, the college is not able to reimburse personal expenses. We announced the change as soon as possible so that students and families could adjust their travel plans accordingly.
Are student bills still due August 10?
No. They are now due August 31.
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 sophomores, juniors and seniors at Student Financial Services.
How are work-study expectations affected by the move to remote learning for the fall semester?
Work-study expectations for first-year and sophomore students have been eliminated and replaced by grants. Work-study expectations for juniors and seniors have been reduced by 50% under the current plan to invite juniors and seniors to be in residence for the spring 2021 semester. Should the spring semester be moved to all-remote, the college will adjust its financial aid accordingly.
Is there an additional charge for the interterm session?
No. Courses offered during interterm are included in the fall tuition.
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.
Since 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.
Will faculty and staff continue to be allowed on campus?
There are no changes at this time to the college’s Return to Campus policy for employees. Employees must be authorized to return to campus as part of their departments’ operating plans.
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.
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.
Will employees be allowed to use campus athletic facilities?
Indoor facilities are closed for the semester. Outdoor athletic facilities, including the tennis courts and track, are open to any member of the Smith community—but remain closed to the public. Masks must be worn at all times and physical distancing must be practiced.
Can employees approved for on-campus work 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.
How can I report concerns about safety on campus?
Smith College is an organization with strong values of responsibility and integrity. Professional conduct at the college is governed by the Code of Conduct. If you wish to place a confidential report of violations of policies or standards, Smith encourages you to use this service, provided by EthicsPoint.
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.
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?
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.
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.
How will having a remote semester affect the college’s financial situation?
The college will continue to review the financial implications of a remote semester. Smith's underlying financial condition is strong.
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.
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.