Read Smith’s UPDATED plans as of November 23, 2020,
for the spring 2021 semester.
Health & Safety
Health & Safety
To mitigate the spread of COVID-19 on the Smith campus, the college is enacting health and safety policies that align with guidance from local, state and federal public health authorities as well as the American College Health Association.
- Students, staff and faculty are required to wear a well-fitted face mask or approved face covering, covering nose and mouth, at all times while on Smith’s campus (with the exception of when alone in private offices or, for students, in individual rooms). Masks with exhalation / one-way valves and clear face shields are not approved face coverings.
- No off-campus visitors or guests will be permitted in college buildings, including in student housing.
- All programming should be remote by default unless it is deemed critical to the delivery of the curriculum.
- When deemed necessary, in-person social and co-curricular gatherings are strictly limited to fewer than ten people, in accordance with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts’ Safe on Campus Plan.
- Student travel beyond 10 miles of campus is not permitted at any time except for approved emergency cases.
- Employees may not use Smith funds for travel. Personal travel is highly discouraged, and employees may be asked to self-quarantine before returning to campus.
- Students may visit other students’ rooms, in groups of no larger than two, so long as physical distancing guidelines are strictly followed and masks are worn at all times.
- Overnight visitors are strictly prohibited. This applies to Smith students as well as guests; rooms must remain single-occupancy overnight, every night.
Student and Employee Handbook Addendum
Community safety during a pandemic is a collective responsibility. The ability of the Smith College community to thrive during the current COVID-19 pandemic is contingent upon a shared understanding that we each have a role in taking steps that promote not only our own health but the health of the other individuals with whom we share our campus.
A culture of care acknowledges that keeping our community safe and caring for one another requires each of us to fully comply with public health guidelines. In support of our goal to create a culture of care, and in accordance with public health guidance, Smith College requires that all students, faculty, staff, and approved visitors to campus abide by:
1. All applicable laws, regulations, and guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, as well as state and local public health authorities; and
2. All other safety precautions required by Smith College.
The college will maintain a publicly-available listing of these safety precautions online. This listing may be updated over time.
The college encourages everyone to do their best to honor not only the letter, but the spirit of any safety precautions. Students, faculty, and staff who do not adhere to applicable safety precautions may be subject to disciplinary action under relevant processes. Approved visitors who do not adhere to applicable safety precautions may be removed and/or trespassed from Smith College.
Stay 6 feet (2 meters) from others at all times.
Wear a well-fitted face mask or approved face covering at all times, unless you are alone in your individual room or office.
Handwashing or Sanitizing
Clean your hands when transitioning from one space to another.
Cleaning and Disinfecting Surfaces
Clean and disinfect all high-touch surfaces. The college will supply cleaning products.
If Experiencing COVID-19 Symptoms
Students: Contact the Schacht Center.
Employees & off-campus students: Stay away from campus and call your healthcare provider.
- Students approved to be in residence on or near campus who develop symptoms should contact the Schacht Center for Health and Wellness at 413-585-2250. Employees who develop symptoms should be tested immediately by their primary healthcare provider.
- Students approved to be in residence on or near campus and student-facing staff and faculty will be tested for COVID-19 on arrival to campus and retested on a regular basis, at no cost, up to twice per week. Students living locally off-campus who wish to take part in on-campus activities must follow the on-campus testing protocol.
- Students approved to be in residence on or near campus and employees will be asked to monitor their health on a daily basis and must follow COVID-19 response protocol if they display any symptoms related to COVID-19.
- Students or student-facing employees who develop symptoms should be tested immediately by a local health-care provider.
- All on-campus asymptomatic testing will be conducted in coordination with the Broad Institute.
- Asymptomatic testing will be done using a CRSP SARS-CoV-2 Real-time Reverse Transcriptase(RT)-PCR Diagnostic Assay. Testing uses anterior nares swabs, which are less invasive than other methods.
Please note that specific testing protocols are currently being finalized and will be shared as soon as they are available.
- Any student in residence who tests positive for COVID-19 will be moved to dedicated isolation housing for care and monitoring.
- Meals, transportation to and from medical care, and extended cleaning protocols will be provided for students in isolation.
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.
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.