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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

Residence Life

Residence Life & Dining

Smith’s houses and gathering spaces are central to the college’s co-curricular experience. Adapting these spaces to meet 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. Smith’s new model seeks to build community, while simultaneously maintaining the health of our community.

Quick Facts

  • For the fall semester, first-year students, sophomores, 2021 J grads, Ada Comstock scholars in Smith housing and select student leaders will be invited to be in residence.
  • Students with extraordinary circumstances may also apply to be in residence. An application will be sent to all students in early July. 
  • Students will be brought back to campus in stages beginning in mid- to late August to allow for thorough COVID-19 testing. Information about dates will be sent to students and families in late July
  • For the spring semester, juniors, seniors, Ada Comstock scholars and select student leaders will be invited to be in residence on or near campus.
  • Outside visitors will not be permitted in Smith housing at any time.


General Information

  • For the fall semester, first-year students, sophomores, 2021 J grads, Ada Comstock scholars in Smith housing and select student leaders will be invited to be in residence on or near campus.
  • For the spring semester, juniors, seniors, Ada Comstock scholars in Smith housing and select student leaders will be invited to be in residence on or near campus.
  • Limited housing will also be made available for students with extraordinary circumstances. An application for this housing will be sent to students in early July.
  • All rooms on campus will be converted to single-occupancy with a limited number of students per floor.
  • Students may only travel within a 10 mile radius of Smith. (Longer trips are allowed in family emergencies.)


Local, Off-Campus Students

  • Students approved to live off campus locally will be required to participate in the college's COVID-19 testing program in order to take in-person classes or have access to campus resources.
  • With the purchase of a Board Plan and participation in the college's COVID-19 testing program, local, off-campus students can use Smith dining.

Residence Halls

  • Residence halls will followed a staggered opening and move-in schedule.
  • Students will receive housing assignments in early August.
  • All students will have single rooms.
  • Access to houses is limited to Smith students; no off-campus visitors are allowed.
  • Students may welcome other Smith students to their rooms under certain conditions (please see FAQ below). No overnight guests are allowed.


To ensure the safety of students and employees, and to follow public health guidance, dining services will shift to a temporary model of service for fall 2020 that continues to rely on local, sustainable sourcing.

  • All meals will be served as takeout only: preordered by students and cooked to order for pick up at a preselected time.
  • Ordering and pick-up time selection will be done through an app.
  • There will be three breakfast pick-up locations, six lunch pick-up locations and seven dinner pick-up locations.
  • Meal periods will be extended to allow students to order and pick up food while avoiding crowds and meeting their individual schedules.
  • Dietary restrictions will be fully accommodated.
  • Dining halls will have takeout only; students may eat meals in their rooms or other spaces that meet physical-distancing restrictions.
  • Catering operations will be suspended for the fall semester.

Frequently Asked Questions

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.