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Smith Announces Plans for Fall Semester
Smith College today announced that all Smith students will have an opportunity to study on campus for at least part of the 2020-21 academic year through a plan—“A Culture of Care”— that relies on the best available medical and public health guidance to put health and safety, students’ education and the Smith experience at its center.
Physical distancing, testing, disinfecting and compliance will be key to mitigating the spread of COVID-19, McCartney wrote. Compliance “represents a vital, shared, sustained responsibility,” she noted. “We need to practice these behaviors not only for ourselves but also for others….Together we can keep Smith students on campus if we embrace and practice ‘A Culture of Care.’”
Among the key points of Smith’s “A Culture of Care” plan:
- All students will have the opportunity to live on or near campus for at least part of the 2020-21 academic year. In light of the need for rigorous physical distancing, first-year students, sophomores and students graduating in January will be invited to return to Smith for the fall semester; juniors and seniors will be invited to return in the spring. Ada Comstock Scholars with on-campus housing assignments will be invited to return for the full year, as will new transfer students and international students who cannot return home. Some student leaders will be invited to return for the full year.
- Smith will follow scientifically established health and safety guidelines designed to limit the spread of COVID-19. Through a contract with the Eli and Edythe Broad Institute, Smith will provide mandatory testing for all students, faculty and staff on campus. Masks are required everywhere on campus, except in a student’s room. And, in accordance with CDC guidelines, the college will implement an intensified schedule of cleaning and disinfecting.
- Like many colleges and universities, Smith has revised its academic calendar to accommodate a possible resurgence of COVID-19. Smith will begin classes earlier, on September 1, and will eliminate fall break. Students will return home at Thanksgiving; fall coursework, exams and final projects will be completed remotely by December 17. Students may elect to take either three or four courses in the fall term; they may take additional courses during a remote January/February interterm. The spring semester will begin on February 15 and conclude on May 21. Graduation is planned for Sunday, May 30.
- Most courses will be designed to be delivered both remotely and in person, with students and faculty members choosing the mode(s) they prefer. A small number of courses will be offered in person only.
- The physical distancing required to reduce viral spread precludes participation in varsity and club sports this fall. Smith is working with other NEWMAC colleges to determine whether fall teams might participate in limited league competition in early 2021.
- In recognition of the financial burdens that COVID-19 has imposed on students and families, Smith is rolling back the college’s planned tuition increase and increasing financial aid to help offset the impacts of the pandemic. Room and board charges will be prorated to reflect the shorter fall semester on campus. For students on financial aid, the allowance for personal expenses will be increased by $2,000 per year, and expectations for work-study earnings have been reduced by 50 percent.
Smith’s plans are designed to be flexible and responsive. If circumstances change, the college will adjust to further support the health and safety of the community.