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A Spring Semester Welcome

COVID Response

Published January 22, 2021

Dear students, staff and faculty,

The spring semester is about to start, and I am looking forward to welcoming so many of you back to campus. I eagerly anticipate seeing you and hearing your bright conversations, muffled, of course, by the masks which have become commonplace during this pandemic. As my team and I prepare for you to return to campus—students, staff and faculty alike—we are mindful of our responsibility to our community both at Smith and beyond the Grécourt Gates.

A Culture of Care

Although many more of us will be back on campus, this semester will not be a typical one. As cases of COVID-19 surge across Massachusetts and the country, we must work together to ensure the health of those with whom we interact, and we must come together in a true Culture of Care. We have learned a great deal about COVID-19 and the coronavirus in the past ten months, and we have a sound plan to ensure our health and safety.

As you know, Smith’s Culture of Care is a reciprocal one; it requires that we not only comply with guidelines but also hold one another accountable. Each of us has an important role to play in ensuring everyone is wearing face coverings, practicing physical distancing, washing their hands and checking for symptoms.

The ability to continue with in-person classes and freely move through campus rests on a simple proposition: we have a responsibility to protect one another, and any individual’s behavior that is at odds with our plan can push the campus into a more restrictive operating mode. This year, more than any other, individual actions will have far-reaching consequences for our community. We ask for your partnership in two ways: adhering to our health and safety plans yourself and helping to ensure every community member does so as well.

Communications and Updates

Soon, you will receive an email from the COVID-19 Incident Response Team (CIRT) with details about our plans for communications and updates, information on our operating modes and ways you will be informed about changes to daily campus life, and how to find support and resources for doing your own part in ensuring everyone’s safety. Be on the lookout for regular updates from CIRT throughout the semester.

The COVID-19 Vaccine

Like you, my team and I are eagerly awaiting state guidance on vaccine distribution, and we have formed a campus vaccine working group to set policies for the campus distribution of any vaccines released under the Commonwealth’s COVID-19 Vaccination Program. Although we are hopeful that the vaccine will be widely available to our community this spring, Massachusetts is only now beginning to ramp up wide-scale distribution plans. Because of this, we are not changing our operating plans or anticipating a loosening of health and safety restrictions in the immediate future.

I have faith that members of our community will come together this spring and support the health and safety of friends, colleagues and neighbors. I look forward to seeing our campus come alive again. Even as we struggle to recognize one another in masks -- nothing will prevent us from savoring the simple joys of learning together.


Kathleen McCartney