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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

Student Life

Student Life

Life outside the academic and residential spaces provides important enrichment and is a central component of the student experience. Adapting this experience in light of public health guidance as we respond to COVID-19 requires significant changes that mitigate risk while maintaining, wherever possible, Smith’s unique strength as a residential college. As we have with our residential model, we have re-imagined student life with an eye toward building community, while simultaneously maintaining the health of our community.

Quick Facts

  • Move-in, Orientation and Central Check-in will be modified to meet public health guidelines. 
  • A limited number of community spaces (including cultural spaces and house common rooms) will still be available under special guidelines.
  • To prioritize the health and safety of students, faculty and staff, the Campus Center and other college buildings will be open only to members of the Smith College community.
  • To minimize risk of exposure through travel, outside speakers will appear virtually, rather than in person.


Arriving at Smith

  • Students will be asked to self-quarantine at home and follow Safer-at-Home protocol for two weeks prior to arrival. 
  • Students will be brought back to campus in stages between August 28 and 31 to allow for thorough COVID-19 testing.  Arrival time sign-up links were emailed to students on July 24.
  • Central Check-In, Orientation, Bridge and International Student Orientation programs will take place in a modified format. 
  • Students may still ship belongings to Smith. The Mail Room is revising operations to maintain health and safety during high-traffic periods.

Community Engagement

  • Smith will provide a mix of mission-critical in-person programs as well as an revised schedule of indoor programs for small groups (less than 10 people); an expanded lineup of outdoor programs for larger groups; and online programming.
  • To minimize risk of exposure through travel, outside speakers will appear virtually, rather than in person.
  • Participants may be required to register in advance for events, in order to ensure appropriate physical distancing.

Cultural and Community Connection Spaces

  • Smith has established special guidelines under which a limited number of cultural and community spaces will be available for students in residence.
  • These guidelines apply to college cultural spaces, as well as house common rooms. Please see the FAQ below for details.

Campus Center Operations

  • To prioritize the health and safety of students, faculty and staff, the Campus Center will be open only to members of the Smith College community.
  • Campus Center hours may be more limited than in years past; see the Campus Center website for updated hours.
  • The maximum number of people allowed in Campus Center (and other) spaces is being revised to ensure appropriate physical distancing.
  • All Campus Center operations (including the Mail Room, Campus Bookstore, Campus Center Cafe) are revising their work plans to ensure appropriate physical distancing. 

Student Aid & Tuition

In recognition of the financial burdens that COVID-19 has imposed on students and families, we have taken two key actions. We have increased financial aid to help offset the impacts of the pandemic, and we have rolled back our planned tuition increase. Further, we have prorated fall room and board charges to reflect a shorter fall semester on campus. We remain committed to meeting every Smith student’s full demonstrated financial need and to reviewing each student’s financial aid award if their financial circumstances have changed. For more information, please see Tuition & Aid

Quick Facts

  • The planned 2020-21 tuition increase has been rolled back.
  • Room and board charges will be prorated and only charged to those students living in Smith-provided housing.
  • For students on financial aid, personal expense allowances will be increased by $2,000 and work-study expectations will be reduced by 50%.
  • The additional Interterm course offerings are included in the fall tuition. 

Frequently Asked Questions

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

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

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

Will Mountain Day happen for the fall semester?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cultural and Community Connection Spaces

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Will affinity housing continue for fall 2020?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Local, Off-Campus Students

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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