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Letter to Staff, March 13, 2020

Letter to Staff, March 13, 2020

Dear Members of the Smith Staff Community,

I write to provide you with an update on what we are doing to promote safety and well-being in our community in response to COVID-19, while continuing to deliver on our core academic mission.

As you know, we made the decision earlier this week to end in-person instruction as of Friday, March 13, and move to alternate modes of instruction beginning on March 30. Over the next week, most of our students will move out of their Smith residences, and some students without alternative housing will remain.

I know that many of you have questions about what COVID-19 and our response means for you. It is important to note that the college is not closed, and employees will be expected to continue to work their regular number of hours.

As the college’s response to the pandemic progresses, there may be scenarios that affect employees’ ability to come to work or result in the college limiting in-person operations. Our attention is now focused on planning for and addressing these issues. To that end, we are providing the following:

  • To discuss the college’s COVID-19 response and answer community questions, we will hold an all-staff meeting on Wednesday, March 18. This meeting will be held remotely via Zoom, and viewing opportunities will be made available across campus. More information on the time and viewing options will be shared prior to this meeting.
  • To address questions about community wellbeing, we have updated our FAQ with employee guidance including leave and benefit policies, continuity of work and more. I strongly encourage you to read these. Our efforts are guided by our need to focus on protecting the health and wellbeing of those employees considered at high risk for COVID-19 complications under CDC guidelines.
  • To ensure that we can continue to operate the college, tomorrow we will hold a manager training session on business continuity. This training will support managers’ efforts to plan for both remote work and high-absence situations. The meeting will be held from 1-2PM in Weinstein Auditorium. Please note: this meeting is held as an exception to our current limit on events. We encourage social distancing (seats between people, etc.), and we urge you, if you feel unwell, not to attend. An online option for attendance will be made available, and we will distribute more information about that soon.

Please continue to direct your questions to

As President McCartney wrote, “this is an unprecedented challenge in Smith’s history - but one that we can meet together with proactive planning and a shared responsibility for each other’s safety.”


David DeSwert
Vice President for Finance & Administration
Chair, COVID-19 Incident Response Team