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

Smith College A Culture of Care

Arrival & Quarantine Protocol

Arrival & Quarantine Protocol

Massachusetts State Law

Under Massachusetts state law, all visitors arriving in the state of Massachusetts must quarantine for 14 days or until a negative COVID-19 viral test result is received. According to the governor’s executive order, there are three exceptions to this rule that impact students and parents or guardians arriving at Smith.

  1. Transitory Travel
    Those traveling through the state without remaining in Massachusetts overnight are exempt from quarantine.
  2. Travelers from lower-risk states
    Travelers arriving from states designated as “COVID-19 lower-risk states” are not subject to the quarantine requirement. Please check the current list of COVID-19 lower-risk states, which may be updated on a regular basis.
  3. Travelers tested before arrival
    Travelers are exempt from the quarantine requirement if they have received a negative result from a COVID-19 viral screening based on a sample obtained not longer than 72 hours before their arrival in Massachusetts. A traveler relying on the 72-hour test rule must be prepared to provide proof of the negative test result on request.

Anyone arriving in Massachusetts who does not meet one of the quarantine exceptions must fill out and submit the Massachusetts Travel Form.

For Students

Will students need to quarantine at home before they arrive at Smith?
Yes. All students are expected to follow “safer at home” protocols for two weeks before arrival on campus. Students will also be asked to follow the CDC’s safe travel guidelines.

Will students need to quarantine upon arrival at Smith?
All students who are not exempt under Massachusetts law must remain in quarantine at Smith until their first negative COVID-19 screening result is confirmed. A current COVID-19 infection screening will be administered upon arrival for every student, and results are expected within 24 to 36 hours. Until a negative screening result is confirmed, quarantined students must remain in their individual rooms except for restroom use. Meals will be delivered to each student during the quarantine period.

Can students leave their rooms during quarantine as long as masks or approved face coverings are worn and physical distancing is maintained?
No; students must remain in their rooms, except to use the restroom. Students will be assigned a restroom on their floor and are expected to stagger restroom use whenever possible to maintain physical distancing. Meals will be provided by contactless delivery.

I am arriving at Smith the night before moving in. Can I still move in?
Under state law, any overnight visitor must remain in quarantine until or unless one of the exceptions is met. Because of this, we encourage parents and students arriving a day or more before their scheduled move-in to be screened within 72 hours prior to their arrival in Massachusetts. 

Once I move onto campus, can I go out for a meal with my family afterwards? Can I shop? Can I hang out with them at their hotel if they are staying overnight?
Under state law, once a student arrives on campus, they must remain in quarantine in their room unless or until they meet an existing exception.

For Parents / Guardians

Can parents or guardians help move students into their houses?
Up to two guests may assist students during the move-in period. Guests will be asked to register prior to entering the residence to assist in contact-tracing efforts. To lower density on campus, we ask that guests wear a mask or approved face covering, physically distance and leave the residence as soon as possible after the move-in is completed.

My parents are staying overnight before they help me move in. How does the quarantine period affect them?
Once a parent or guardian has stayed overnight in the state of Massachusetts, they are no longer exempt from quarantine. According to state law, parents who are traveling from a high-risk state and are staying overnight in Massachusetts must do one of the following:

  • Obtain a negative screening result from up to 72 hours before arriving in Massachusetts
  • Remain in quarantine—in Massachusetts—for 14 days before helping with move-in.

What if parents are unable to travel to Massachusetts due to the state quarantine law?
We recognize and honor family members’ wish to be a part of the move-in experience. At the same time, we have no control over the state’s requirements, and we recognize that the travel order may result in some parents or guardians sending students to travel on their own to Smith. If this is the case, please know that Smith’s student affairs and residence life staff are here to welcome and care for all students when they arrive. 

If I am arriving at an airport or transit hub outside of Massachusetts, do I need to observe that state’s guidelines?
Yes. Please review the travel guidelines for the state in which you will be arriving.

For those arriving at Bradley International Airport, please review Connecticut State Guidelines. Note that, like Massachusetts, Connecticut has a mandatory 14-day quarantine for visitors who arrive from a higher-risk state and stay in Connecticut overnight.

Can parents be screened for COVID-19 by Smith College, or recieve assistance from Smith in locating a local testing site? 
No. Smith College is only able to provide screening and medical advice—including referrals to local service providers—to current students.

Health & Safety FAQ

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Can an employee not approved for on-campus work use campus athletic facilities?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Manager Guidance

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Manager Guidance: Approving Time Off

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

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

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

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

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