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A Culture of Care

Read Smith’s plans for the spring 2021 semester.
Current Operating Mode: GREEN

Smith College A Culture of Care

Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

Last Updated: February 26, 2021

Please Note: Because the answers to many common questions will change depending on the college’s operating mode, please refer to the Status & Operating Mode page for additional information. If you have further questions, contact covid19info@smith.edu.

NEW How can employees and students request COVID-19 related cleaning supplies?
Facilities Management maintains an inventory of COVID-19 related cleaning supplies. These supplies include hand sanitizers, face coverings, gloves, cleaning/disinfecting chemicals and wipes; these materials are to be used to sanitize Smith-owned spaces only. Students, faculty and staff can obtain these items through the Facilities Management work order system.

NEW What type of mask should students, faculty and staff approved to be on campus wear?
Smith encourages community members to follow the most current CDC guidelines for masks. These guidelines recommend using nonmedical-grade disposable masks or fabric masks made of a tightly woven, breathable fabric such as cotton and constructed with two to three layers or a compartment for a filter. In the absence of a single mask that meets these criteria, wearing more than one mask in layers can increase the protection they afford. All masks should fit snugly around the nose and chin with no large gaps on the sides.

What led Smith to make the decision to invite most students to return for the spring 2021 semester?
Throughout the fall, Smith has monitored the experiences of other residential colleges with students on campus and can draw two clear observations. The first is that campuses with strong coronavirus management programs—asymptomatic testing, isolation of people who test positive, timely contact tracing and quarantine of close contacts—have managed to keep coronavirus transmission extremely low. For example, at many of our peer institutions that are testing regularly, the positivity rate as of early November 2020 is approximately .02 percent, which is extraordinarily low. The second observation is that, when practiced together, recommended public health strategies—wearing masks, hand washing, physical distancing and less crowded indoor spaces—work. Taken together, as President McCartney wrote in her letter, “these measures give me confidence that the Smith community can support a safe and healthy campus environment.”

How many students will be invited to return?
Following extensive benchmarking, planning and analysis, we are preparing to welcome to campus most if not all students who wish to return. Based on student surveys, we expect that 1,600–1,700 students may wish to return to campus; Smith is prepared to host as many as 1,830 students based on the availability of single rooms and designated quarantine space.

Will all students have the same opportunity to elect to live on campus?
While we hope to be able accommodate every student who wishes to return to campus, priority for on-campus housing will be given in the following order: 

  • First-years, seniors, fall 2020 transfer students, Ada Comstock Scholars and select student leaders
  • Juniors and sophomores
  • Students who deferred admission
  • Students previously approved for off-campus housing
  • Graduate students

Will the Schacht Center still provide remote resources to students who choose to remain at their current residences?
Yes, the Schacht Center for Health and Wellness will continue to provide accessible, remote resources for 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. 

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. 

Will Northampton community members be allowed on campus? 
Outdoor areas of the campus remain open to the public. Campus buildings will remain open only to faculty, staff and students participating in the COVID-19 screening program. All visitors to the campus’s outdoor spaces must wear masks at all times.

What happens if I get COVID-19?
Any student who becomes ill with COVID-19 will be cared for and supported in separate isolation housing.

Should I wear a mask?
Yes. Smith College and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts now require 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 be provided to students and employees who are approved to be on campus?
Yes. All on-campus Smith-campus community members may receive masks upon request. Students will be provided with one reusable mask. Students should also have additional reusable masks. Employees approved to work on campus can request masks through the Facilities Management work order system. Single-use masks will be available throughout the campus for those who need them.

What if I am unable to wear a mask due to a documented health issue?
Students who are unable to wear a mask 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 virus 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 when around others
  • Avoid close contact maintaining at least 6 feet (2 meters) from others whenever possible
  • Cover coughs and sneezes
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces
  • Monitor your health daily

What happens if a student or employee does not follow coronavirus health and safety protocols?
Consequences may include suspension, expulsion or employment-related discipline up to and including dismissal for those students, staff or faculty members who endanger others by failing to follow the college’s health and safety conduct requirements.

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 lvirus and 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.

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.

NEW What do the different lanyard colors mean?
Each residential student and employee approved to be on campus will receive a lanyard with an ID holder. This lanyard indicates participation in the coronavirus screening program. Students, faculty and staff must have their lanyards visible at all times when on campus and when entering and using campus facilities. The colors indicate:

  • Light Blue: On-Campus Students
  • Lime Green: Approved Off-Campus Students
  • Burgundy: Exceptions (off-campus students in the COVID-19 screening program who are approved to be on campus during blue, green and yellow modes)
  • Gold: Faculty / Staff

What do I need to know about arriving on campus?
Please consult the arrival plan page for detailed information about what to do before and after arriving on campus for the spring 2021 semester.

Which students need to quarantine on arrival to campus?
All students from outside Massachusetts will be required to quarantine when they arrive on campus, in accordance with commonwealth guidelines. Students who reside in Massachusetts, and who have been in the state for 14 days before arriving on campus, will move directly into their spring semester housing assignment following central check-in. The college will continue to monitor the list of restricted travel states issued by the commonwealth of Massachusetts. Please note, to ensure campus safety, the college will not accept negative pre-arrival coronavirus test results as an exemption from arrival quarantine.

Do I have to pay for the Covid-19 tests?
No. Smith is paying for all symptomatic and asymptomatic COVID-19 tests that are performed on campus.

Why are we doing asymptomatic screening if the transmission of asymptomatic infections is rare?
The CDC warns that you can still pass along the virus even if you feel well and experience no symptoms. College campuses by nature are close- knit communities in which faculty, staff, and students all have regular interaction. Even though Smith has a limited number of students living on campus, there is still a sizable number of employees and students on campus on any given day. The asymptomatic screening process is in place to slow any potential outbreaks and decrease the rate of infection. Doing so can help lessen pressures on our local health-care institutions and prevent them from being overwhelmed by an outbreak on campus that could spread into our local community.

Why do we have an indoor space vs. an outdoor space for screening? Wouldn’t it be safer to do the screening outdoors, especially when you have to pull down your mask during screening?
The Carroll Room is a safe option for indoor screening. This room is constantly supplied by outside, fresh air. There is no recycled air coming back into this room.

Individuals who enter a testing booth are asked to pull their masks just below their nose, but to keep the rest of their face covered. The ease of the collection process ensures that an individual’s mask is down for only a few seconds. We also have a regular cleaning protocol for the booths, which are in place to keep the staff safe who are working on site several hours each day.

As nice as an outdoor space would be, we had to find a more permanent option since the screening will span into the winter months. Since we have to have staff observing the swabbing it's not realistic to have them working outside for extended periods of time when the weather gets colder.

What happens if a line forms? How are we doing crowd control at the screening location?
During the first week of screening, the average wait time in line was no more than a few minutes. There are floor markers in place and staff monitoring the line to ensure that physical distancing measures are maintained. When the line does get longer, people are asked to wait outside. As we continue the screening process, we trust that the process will be streamlined even further and will prevent long lines from forming.

Are “enhanced remote” courses available to fully-remote students?
Yes. Faculty teaching enhanced remote courses will be asked to create remote analogues to accommodate students who cannot attend in person.

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 if they choose not to return to campus?
Digital support requests for remote learning can be submitted via the COVID-19 Digital Support website by clicking “help” in the top menu.

As an international student I have questions about how the spring 2021 plans will affect my visa, travel and other critical issues. Where can I learn more?
The ISSO has created a frequently asked questions page specific to international students.

What is the status of study abroad for Spring 2021?
After an extensive review of the pandemic risk for study abroad, the Office for International Study is offering conditional approval for study abroad in a limited number of countries (Denmark, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Japan, Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan). This list includes the Smith in Hamburg program. The review included an assessment of each program’s COVID-19 contingency plans and protocols, refund policies, academic continuity guarantees and coronavirus precautions in program-regulated housing. 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.

As a result of the extensive review, the college has made the difficult decision not to support study abroad for other destinations and programs, and has suspended Smith’s own programs in Paris, Geneva and Florence. This decision was reached due to one of the following factors: the country is under a U.S. State Department Level 4 Travel Advisory, the program itself is no longer offered, the program does not meet our criteria for health and safety concerns or the local public health metrics for coronavirus transmission are considered to be of high risk.

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. Graduate students may not elect the S/U grading option.

Can students attend Five College classes?
Yes. Please note that Five College Consortium courses may be attended remotely only for the spring 2021 semester. Also note that other institutions’ courses begin earlier than Smith’s spring semester courses. Please check the registrar’s office website for course-add deadlines for Five College courses.

NEW Will the college bookstore be open for students to shop?
The Smith College Bookstore will remain closed to in-person shopping until further notice. All orders can be placed online at the bookstore website. Orders can be shipped to students’ homes or their campus mailbox, or they can be picked up in the Campus Center. Bookstore staff members are in the store Monday through Friday. Orders can be picked up between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m. by calling the store upon arrival. For additional information, email cmshea@smith.edu.

Where can students pick up their mail and packages?
Students’ letters and packages will be loaded into lockers at mail services in the Campus Center. For Items that cannot be loaded into lockers, mail services will contact students directly to coordinate a pickup time. The student pickup window will remain closed until further notice.

When can I pick up my mail or packages?
Students will be able to retrieve their letters and packages from mail lockers during the Campus Center’s open hours. Students will receive an email notification when they have items in the lockers.

Can students or employees mail out items or purchase stamps from Smith mail services?
Yes. The retail window will operate with limited services and hours starting the week of February 15. Please review the mail services webpage for updates.

When should students ship personal belongings to Smith?
Students should send their items no sooner than five days before their arrival date at Smith. For example, if a students’ expected arrival date is January 22, they should ship their items on or after January 17.

Can students living on campus get mail or packages if they are in isolation or quarantine?
No. Students who are in quarantine or isolation upon arrival or during the semester cannot retrieve items from Smith mail services during that period. For extenuating circumstances, such as retrieving shipments of prescribed medications, students can call customer service at 413-585-2400 or enter a work order for assistance.

Will students be able to receive perishable items at Smith?
No. Mail services recommends that students avoid receiving or ordering items that are perishable at this time.

If I live locally, off-campus, will I be able to receive mail and packages at my Smith address?
No. Students living locally (off campus) should have their mail sent to their off-campus address. Students should update their address by contacting the registrar's office.

What happens to a student's mail if they are not confirmed to have residential housing for spring 2021?
Any packages received at Smith mail services for students who will not be returning to Smith residential housing during the spring 2021 semester will be returned to the sender. All first-class domestic mail will continue to be forwarded. All international mail will be returned to the sender.

How will this decision affect graduate and post-bacc students?
Most graduate courses will be taught remotely (courses under the “Enhanced Remote” mode of instruction will have some in-person component and very few courses will be in person.) 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 January 22.

If I do not return to campus, 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. https://www.smith.edu/about-smith/mail-services/for-students

Can students in residence travel outside of Northampton?
In green mode, students in residence are limited to a travel radius of 10 miles from campus for essential travel only (in yellow mode limited to 1 mile from campus). Urgent travel needs (e.g., medical appointments, family emergencies) outside this radius should be brought to the attention of studentaffairs@smith.edu.

Can I visit the other five colleges?
No. Students who travel from campus should do so only for essential needs including medical/personal care, work or to attend religious services. Students may not leave campus to join social gatherings or visit off-campus residences. The Five College Consortium is not having any in-person classes for students who are cross-enrolled and may not allow visitors to campus.

Can I participate in an off-campus employment or internship?
Yes, within 10 miles of campus. If the college moves to yellow mode, then students will only be allowed to travel 1 mile from campus.

If the college changes its mind before the semester starts, will the college reimburse me 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.

When will I know about Commencement or Reunion?
The college has not yet made a decision regarding Commencement or Reunion. Currently, state guidelines do not permit large gatherings.

Will there be an orientation for first-year and transfer students?
Yes. New student orientation is scheduled for February 11–14, and will include programming for students arriving on campus for the first time.

NEW: Is the housing form that was due on December 1 financially binding?
Because the pandemic may cause students' plans to change unexpectedly, there will be no penalty for students who switch to remote learning before the spring semester begins even if they requested on-campus housing. Students must contact residence life if their plans have changed. 

NEW: Where can students eat their meals?
Available dining locations depend on the college's color-coded operating mode. When the campus is in green mode, dining rooms will have limited, physically distanced seating and will be open extended hours. During yellow mode, all food will be take-out only with physically distanced seating available throughout campus. During red mode, meals will be individually packaged to go and delivered to house common rooms; students must then eat in their individual rooms. 

If a student returns home mid-semester to study remotely, will they be entitled to a refund?
Yes. Any student who leaves campus early to study remotely will be issued a prorated refund.

Can local, off-campus students join the meal plan?
Yes. Local, off-campus students participating in the COVID-19 screening program may join the 21 meal per week plan for the semester.

Which students will be invited to live on campus?
While we hope to be able to accommodate every student who wishes to return to campus, we need to give special assurance to some groups: first-years, seniors, select student leaders, and students with extraordinary circumstances that impede their learning from home.

Will students living locally or approved to be in residence have access to campus learning resources?
Yes. Students approved to live locally can participate in the same on-campus activities available to students living on campus, as long as they participate in the twice-weekly coronavirus screening.

How will this decision affect graduate and post-bacc students using campus housing?
If a graduate or post-bacc student already lives on campus or has been assigned housing on campus for the spring semester, that housing assignment will remain. If graduate and post-bacc students are interested in on-campus housing even if they didn't ask for it earlier, they should contact the program coordinator via email (gradstdy@smith.edu) as soon as possible; we might have some on-campus housing spaces available. No additional housing spaces will be allocated after January 22. Information about the arrival plan will be made available in mid-December.

Can students have visitors in on-campus housing?
No. Houses are open only to Smith College students in residence—no off-campus visitors are allowed under any circumstances. In green mode, guests who are Smith College students in residence are allowed in other students’ rooms so long as they are following our mask and physical distancing guidelines. A maximum of two guests are allowed in one room at a time. Please note that if the campus moves out of the green/low-risk operating mode, further restrictions will be put in place.

Can students in residence travel off campus?
In green mode, 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 studentaffairs@smith.edu. Please note that the City of Northampton, like Smith, requires that masks be worn in public at all times. Please note that if the campus moves out of the green/low-risk operating mode, further restrictions will be put in place.

What happens if I get sick with COVID-19? Will I be able to 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.

Which houses will be used for isolation and quarantine?
Baldwin House, Haven House and the Friedmans will serve as quarantine or isolation spaces.

I am immunocompromised. Can I request a room with a private/semi-private bath or a smaller number of people sharing a bath?
Students who are immunocompromised or who would prefer living in a smaller community may request housing in a designated immunocompromised housing option. These communities will be located in Sessions Annex, Hopkins and Wesley Houses and will be limited to fewer than 20 students per community with three to eight students sharing a communal bath space. Priority will be given to students with medical needs and an Office of Disability Services accommodation on file.

I have an Office of Disability Services (ODS) accommodation. Will I be guaranteed to return to my previous assignment?
While we can guarantee that all ODS accommodations will be met, we cannot guarantee that students will be able to return to their last assigned room. If we are unable to reassign students to their last assigned room, we will contact the student to identify a new assignment that meets the current accommodation on file.

If I currently live on campus will I have to move for spring semester?
All students currently living on campus will be asked to complete a housing preference form. The Office of Residence Life will try its best to meet students’ requests but cannot guarantee that all requests will be met. Some students will need to move for spring semester housing.

Can I keep the room I selected at room draw?
We cannot guarantee that students will be reassigned to any room selected during room draw. All invited students who confirm enrollment with a request for housing for the spring semester will be able to request specific house and/or room preferences, which may include previously assigned rooms. Those students will receive further information about how to indicate their housing preference on their Residence Life Self-Service via email in December.

How can I apply to live off campus?
Students interested in living off campus may apply via the Petition to Live Off Campus form, which will be available on your Residence Life Self-Service on November 23. The priority deadline is December 15. Petitions received after this date will only be reviewed on a case-by-case basis with final decision made at the end of January.

When will I receive my spring housing assignment?
Students should expect to receive their spring housing assignments via email no later than Monday, January 18. (Note: return-to-campus decisions will be released on December 7, but housing assignments will not yet be available.) Please note that there will be no room changes for the spring 2021 semester.

Will students who were previously assigned to a now-closed house receive priority to live in their first-choice house?
Students who have been previously assigned to a house/apartment that will be closed for the spring 2021 semester will be able to request a new house when submitting their housing preference information. While the Office of Residence Life cannot guarantee that students will be placed in their first-choice house, we will do our best to accommodate those students in one of their top house preferences.

Can I store items in the trunk room? Can I get my belongings from the trunk room?
You may retrieve items from trunk rooms upon returning to campus. Please note that trunk rooms will not be available to store items at the end of the spring semester. Students should bring to campus only what they absolutely need for the spring semester.

I can’t decide whether to study remotely or on campus until I know what my financial aid award will be. When will I know that?
Your financial aid award will not be revised until we know whether you intend to live on campus. In most cases, the amount your family will be asked to pay will be very similar whether you live on campus or at home. If your preference is to return to campus, please fill out the form indicating that is your plan. Most seniors and juniors have aid awards reflecting on-campus residence in the spring, while sophomores and first-years have aid awards reflecting study-at-home. After you receive your adjusted award, you may decide to study remotely; however, there may not be available space on campus if you indicate you plan to study remotely and subsequently change your mind.

The Office of Student Financial Services (SFS) will begin the process of adjusting financial aid awards the week of December 7. It will take some time to revise all awards to align with each student’s housing status, and you will be notified as soon as your award has been adjusted. We expect to have all aid awards and charges adjusted before the spring semester bill goes out on January 15, 2021. If you change your plans after December 1, please know that it will require another adjustment to your aid award and bill. SFS will be informed of the housing change and send another revised award for those adjustments after December 1.  

For those seeking special approval to be considered "Approved, Local Off-Campus," the supplemental application deadline is December 15. SFS will not make any award adjustments until these requests have been finalized.

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 sfs@smith.edu.

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.

How much will room and board cost for the spring? How much will tuition cost?
Our tuition, room and board costs are available via Student Financial Services.

How are work-study expectations affected by the move to remote learning for the spring 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 percent.

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.

NEW Can I take paid leave for COVID vaccine side effects?
Given that COVID-19 vaccine recipients can have a range of normal and expected side effects, if needed, the college is offering employees paid leave for up to 2 paid days off, to support those whose side effects interfere with their ability to engage in their normal work duties. Contact Serena Harris, sharris@smith.edu, if you need to take advantage of this additional time off.

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 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 athletics facilities?
Indoor athletics facilities are closed to employees for the semester. Outdoor athletics 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.

What if I am unable to wear a mask 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 submit 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 to have COVID-19 or presumed positive for coronavirus?
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 coronavirus at work?
If an employee believes they have contracted the coronavirus 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.


Manager Guidance

What if one of my employees believes that they contracted COVID-19 at work?
If an employee believes they have contracted the coronavirus 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., for 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 equipment). 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 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 partner to discuss.

Will employees on furlough be brought back for the spring semester?
The college will bring back all employees whose work is critical to supporting the college’s spring plan.

Is the hiring freeze still in place?
Yes. Staff searches will only be authorized for positions deemed essential to the college’s mission and operations.

What is the status of study abroad for Spring 2021?
After an extensive review of the pandemic risk for study abroad, the Office for International Study is offering conditional approval for study abroad in a limited number of countries (Denmark, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Japan, Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan). This list includes the Smith in Hamburg program. The review included an assessment of each program’s COVID-19 contingency plans and protocols, refund policies, academic continuity guarantees and coronavirus precautions in program-regulated housing. 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.

As a result of the extensive review, the college has made the difficult decision not to support study abroad for other destinations and programs, and has suspended Smith’s own programs in Paris, Geneva and Florence. This decision was reached due to one of the following factors: the country is under a U.S. State Department Level 4 Travel Advisory, the program itself is no longer offered, the program does not meet our criteria for health and safety concerns or the local public health metrics for coronavirus transmission are considered to be of high risk.