Skip Navigation

COVID-19 Updates, Restrictions, Cancellations - More information

X

COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions

Last Updated: April 5, 2020

Top Questions

Are there any suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the Smith community?
As we communicated in our March 23 letter, the college is proceeding as if there is a confirmed case of COVID-19 in the community. Additionally, there is significant, local community spread—and as testing increases the number of reported cases will rise.

Will Commencement and reunions be held?
Unfortunately, no. Given guidance from the Centers for Disease and Prevention to limit large gatherings, the college has canceled both events.

Will the School for Social Work program be held on campus this summer?
The Smith College School for Social Work will move all courses to alternate modes of instruction for summer 2020.


Is the construction of Neilson Library affected?
Yes. In order to support worksite health and safety, the college has discontinued all construction sitework for the Neilson Library project, including Neilson Library and Alumnae Gym. While the college has set a preliminary construction restart date of May 4, 2020, we will assess conditions at that time and recognize that there is a significant chance that we will need to extend the site’s closure.

Are there any suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the Smith community?
As we communicated in our March 23 letter, the college is proceeding as if there is a confirmed case of COVID-19 in the community. Additionally, there is significant, local community spread—and as testing increases the number of reported cases will rise.

What is the impact on classes?
In-person classes will be offered on campus through Friday, March 13. Alternate modes of instruction will be offered for the curriculum, beginning on March 30. Spring recess will be extended one week through Sunday, March 29, to accommodate this change.

Will seniors still graduate and receive a diploma?
Yes.

Will Commencement and reunions be held?
Unfortunately, no. Given guidance from the Centers for Disease and Prevention to limit large gatherings, the college has canceled both events.

Will summer programs still go forward?
The college has not yet made a determination for summer programs.

Will the School for Social Work program be held on campus this summer?
The Smith College School for Social Work will move all courses to alternate modes of instruction for summer 2020.

Will there be any reductions in the workforce or pay?
Benefit-eligible employees will continue to be paid.

How has COVID-19 and the college’s response impacted athletics?
Please refer to the athletics COVID-19 response for current information on the impact to Smith athletics programs.

Is the Campus School closing?
The Campus School will be closed through the end of April, with the earliest reopening being May 4.

Is the Fort Hill Center for Early Childhood Education closing?
The Center for Early Childhood Education will be closed through the end of April, with the earliest reopening being May 4.

Are campus buildings open?
No. Academic and administrative buildings are only open to essential employees. Residential houses are only open to students and essential employees assigned to those houses.

Are on-campus meetings and events canceled?
Yes. The college is requiring that all in-person gatherings and events not deemed critical for continued operations be canceled or moved to remote delivery methods.

How will on-campus mail service and delivery be affected?
Students: As of Monday, March 23, mail services will be closing the retail and student pickup windows and will only be on campus to process campus-related mail on Mondays and Thursdays. Students who are remaining on campus will receive notices and be able to pick up their letters and packages from the lockers at the Campus Center. If items arrive that cannot be loaded into lockers, mail services will contact students directly to coordinate a pickup time. Students’ mailing and shipping needs can be fulfilled at the Northampton Post Office at 37 Bridge St., Northampton.

Faculty and Staff: Mail will be delivered to the normal drop-off locations on Tuesday each week, however, ordinary sorting of mail at each drop-off location is suspended except in offices supporting a critical operation. All campus employees are strongly discouraged from coming to campus to retrieve mail. If faculty or staff expect mail crucial to ongoing critical operations, they should be in contact with their chair and/or manager to make appropriate arrangements. Employees who need to make regular visits to campus in order to manage essential mail functions must receive appropriate HR approval to do so, if not already approved for on-campus critical operations. Although outgoing campus mail will be picked up on Tuesdays, it will be metered and go out on Thursdays. If departments have specific mailing needs that are of an urgent nature, or would like to coordinate a mailing drop off on Monday or Thursday, please contact Sarah Marshall at smarshall@smith.edu for assistance.

How will working remotely affect essential processes handled by the controller's office?
For information on reimbursements, payments, Workday processes and more, please visit the COVID-19 Reference Guide for Working Remotely.

Who should I contact if I have questions about COVID-19 at Smith College?
Questions about Smith's response to COVID-19 should be sent to covid19info@smith.edu.

Visit the Health & Prevention page for information on transition of care and travel safety.

What should I do if I think I have COVID-19?
According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), current symptoms reported for patients with COVID-19 have included mild to severe respiratory illness with fever, cough and difficulty breathing.

If you have had close contact with someone showing these symptoms who has recently traveled from an area affected by COVID-19, please contact your primary care provider for guidance. Do not go in person to any medical provider without first speaking to medical staff over the phone for advice.

Students should call the Schacht Center for Health and Wellness at 413-585-2250. Medical staff are also available outside of normal business hours at 413-585-1260. Students are asked to provide health updates to the Schacht Center via the secure and confidential patient portal.

Faculty and staff should contact their primary care providers. If you are an employee, notify your department head. In support of social distancing, we recommend using telehealth resources. For employees, Harvard Pilgrim, the college’s health insurance provider, supports doctorondemand.com.

Whether student, staff or faculty, if you suspect you may be sick, follow your primary care provider’s guidance, remain at home and practice self-isolation to limit the spread of the disease. Additionally, please fill out this private form to support the Schacht Center for Health and Wellness in its public health response. Updates can also be sent to healthservices@smith.edu with the subject “COVID follow up.” 

Please note that the Schacht Center cannot provide medical services to employees and is only acting in this case as a repository of community health information.

Refer to the Exposure Response & Protocol page for more information.

What should students, faculty and staff do to minimize the risk of transmitting the disease on campus?
The college strongly recommends following CDC prevention guidelines, including:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Stay home unless procuring essential items (groceries, medicine).
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.

How is the college planning for a potential outbreak of COVID-19?
The college’s response to COVID-19 is being led by the COVID-19 incident response team, which is meeting daily to set policies for and issue operational guidance to the Smith community in response to the disease.

Will my Smith-provided health insurance change?
No. There will be no changes to the college-provided insurance coverage.

If I am an international student, will Smith's student health insurance cover me in my home country?
Yes, but it will be considered "out-of-network." As such, any claims will be covered at 80% of usual and customary charges. There is also a $300 deductible for out-of-network providers. Blue Cross Blue Shield does also have a global network of providers. Visit BCBS - Global Core to search for doctors around the world. This link is also available at Smith's home page on www.gallagherstudent.com under "Find a doc."

Does the college have a quarantine protocol in place?
Yes. The college’s emergency plans include a pandemic protocol that covers, among other contingencies, the need for various modes of on-campus quarantine.

How is Smith College supporting the local community during the COVID-19 pandemic?
In partnership with Cooley Dickinson Hospital, Smith is donating currently vacant on-campus housing to support the hospital's needs during the COVID-19 pandemic. The college is also donating supplies to the City of Northampton—including 250 cots and 80 meals a day—to expand sheltering capacity for the local homeless population.

Will students remaining on campus have access to teaching and learning spaces?
No. Because the entire curriculum is moving to alternate modes of instruction, all academic buildings, laboratories, athletic and fitness facilities, and teaching spaces will be closed to students. All students, regardless of their physical location, will receive the same level of curricular delivery. Students remaining on campus will only have access to housing, limited dining and essential health and wellness triage services through the Schacht Center for Health and Wellness. Faculty will not meet with students remaining on campus for any reason.

When does instruction end for the spring semester?
Class meetings and instruction will end on Friday, May 1.

How is the college handling reading and final exam periods for the spring 2020 semester?
May 2 through May 8 will serve as the final spring assessment period for final projects and take-home exams. No final exams will be administered by the registrar’s office.

How will spring 2020 classes be graded?
While faculty will record letter grades, all spring 2020 classes will be moved to mandatory S/U grading. These courses will not count against the cap of 16 S/U credits that can be counted toward degree completion. Students who had elected S/U credits for this semester will have those credits converted to mandatory S/U so that the previously elected credits will not count against the cap.

Why are spring 2020 classes being moved to mandatory S/U grading?
We changed this semester’s grades to S/U to recognize the extraordinary character of current circumstances. As we move instruction into alternative modes, we are necessarily changing our agreements about expectations and assessments. In a new and unfamiliar environment, we cannot hold faculty and students to expectations constructed in and for a different instructional experience.

Does the mandatory S/U grading apply to students studying abroad/away?
Course work completed through a non-Smith study abroad program, carrying grades issued by an external institution or provider, is accepted as transfer credit (i.e., not institutional credit) and does not count in the student GPA.

What if students require letter grades for professional programs, employment or graduate studies?
Because letter grades will be recorded, it will be possible for students to request an official letter attesting those grades should that be necessary. This letter would attest only to grades, not to GPA. We will ensure that those who need evidence of your academic achievements this spring will be able to get it.

How will this change affect my GPA?
Grades for spring 2020 courses will not enter into GPA calculations and the college will not be able to calculate or communicate alternative GPAs.

What if I don’t have the technological support or equipment at home to participate in alternative modes of learning?
Please visit the COVID-19 Digital Support site to request assistance. Priority will be given to students receiving need-based financial aid.

How will labs and performances required for credit be completed?
The Office of the Provost and Dean of Faculty will work with faculty on how to best deliver the curriculum.

What library resources are available for students?
Please visit the Libraries Services During COVID-19 website for information.

When can I register for fall 2020 classes?
Advising for fall 2020 begins Monday, April 6 and registration begins Monday, April 20. Each class is assigned a day on which you may begin to access online course registration through BannerWeb (via the Smith Portal). While you and your adviser may not gain access to registration prior to the start date for each class, you may register on any subsequent day. If you do not register by the end of the three-week advising and registration period, you must add your courses during the first two weeks of the semester. For more information, please visit the registrar's office website or contact registrar@smith.edu with questions.

What is the impact on room and board?
All students must move out of their on-campus housing beginning on Saturday, March 14, and must be moved out by Friday, March 20, at the latest. Students should not expect to return this semester.

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 registrar@smith.edu. This will ensure that all First-Class Mail received after your departure is forwarded to the correct address. Please review the guidelines on the Smith College Mail Services website for additional information.

Are there visitor restrictions for those who remain on campus?
Yes. No non-Smith visitors will be permitted in campus houses. Family members assisting with move-out will be permitted until March 20, 2020.

Can students who remain on campus travel outside of Northampton?
No. Students who have been approved to remain on campus may not travel outside of Northampton. Doing so will forfeit the right to retain on-campus housing and dining. Urgent travel needs should be brought to the attention of reslife@smith.edu.

What services will still be available on campus for students who remain?
Limited housing, dining, and health and wellness services will be available to those students remaining on campus.

What steps is the college taking to disinfect residence halls and common areas after students retrieve their belongings?
Smith has purchased additional cleaning and disinfecting supplies, and we are working to carry out the proper cleaning of our facilities.

When will room and board refunds be processed? 
Residential student room and board refunds will be processed during the week of April 6, 2020, for students who have left campus as a result of COVID-19. 

Was there a delay in the refund process?
Yes. There was a slight delay because the college is in the midst of transitioning from Banner to Workday, and student and financial records currently reside in two systems. As a result, it took more time than expected to apply student account credits.

How much of the spring semester’s room and board will be credited to students who have left campus as a result of COVID-19? 
For those students who are not receiving institutional aid, a 50% credit of $4,533 for the spring semester room and board charges (or $2,275 for room only) will be applied to their account. For students receiving institutional aid, the refund will be calculated based on the percentage of room and board that was paid with institutional aid. Every student - even those who were receiving the maximum amount of institutional aid - will receive a minimum of $750 (or $375 if they were not on the college’s meal plan). 

When will room and board credits be issued to students who were studying abroad/away?
Room and board credits will be issued as soon as the college is able to complete proration calculations for each individual program based on its start and end date. 

How can students access their account credits? 
Work study refunds will be directly deposited into the bank account set up for students’ regular earnings.  Refunds for room and board - or room only - will be applied as a credit to each student’s account. Refunds can be applied to future semesters or returned to the student or a third party. Student Financial Services will provide further guidance on how students can choose to direct refunds.

When will students with work-study awards as part of their institutional aid packages receive refunds?
Students receiving need-based institutional aid who have been working a regular work study job will receive a refund deposit calculated as the average number of weekly hours worked year-to-date multiplied by the weeks remaining this semester, not to exceed the maximum work study allocation in each student’s financial aid award. If a student has met that cap, has no earnings or has not been awarded institutional aid, that student will not receive a credit. Refunds will be direct deposited into students’ accounts on the week of April 6, 2020. 

Are there any student jobs available beyond March 20?
A limited number of student positions will be made available to provide curricular and critical operations support. These positions must be approved by the COVID-19 Incident Response Team (CIRT). Research assistant positions will not be approved.

I have a stipended position (STRIDE, AEMES, Mellon-Mays, Head Residents, etc.), will I be paid?
If you have a position that is paid by stipend (you do not record hours), you will continue to receive your current stipend biweekly up to a maximum amount of $3,460 for the year ($1,730 for the semester).

Has Smith canceled any of its study-abroad programs?
Yes. On February 28, the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) raised Italy’s alert level to 3. Following its protocol, the college closed the Smith in Florence program. On March 11, the CDC upgraded Europe to alert-level 3 and all Smith students studying in affected countries were asked to leave Europe and return to the their homes. On March 13, the college required that all students studying abroad, regardless of their location, return home immediately.

Will study-abroad students receive room and board refunds?
Yes. Study-abroad students who have been sent home will receive prorated room and board refunds.

Where will students returning from canceled study-abroad programs go?
Smith students returning early from study-abroad programs will return to their home locations—not to Smith College.

Can students choose to remain in a CDC alert-level 3 country if the college closes their study-abroad program?
To ensure the safety of our students, and following CDC guidance, the college will discontinue all programing in CDC alert-level 3 countries and arrange for students to return to their home locations. The college will work toward providing academic continuity to students who repatriate. Students who remain against the college’s guidance do so at significant personal risk and may not be able to leave the country for an extended period due to international travel restrictions—in this case, Smith will be unable to provide any assistance. Additionally, any Smith-sponsored housing in CDC alert level-3 countries will be discontinued and additional housing support will not be provided.

Are there any changes to the application process to study abroad in fall 2020?
Yes. The college is no longer approving applications for fall 2020 study-abroad programming in any CDC alert-level 3 country until further notice.

Will my benefits be affected?
There will be no changes to college benefit plans. In fact, we will be covering the cost of the coronavirus screening test and treatment, at no out-of-pocket-cost, for all employees on our health plans. Additionally, prior authorization will not be required for diagnostic services related to COVID-19 testing.

Are there any changes to the submission guidelines for 2019 FSA claims?
Yes. Any employees who elected a healthcare or dependent care flexible spending account (FSA) for the calendar year 2019 now have until June 30, 2020 to submit claims to their FSA for reimbursement. Receipts dated prior to March 1, 2020 are eligible for reimbursement. Employees should log into http://www.benstrat.com to submit a receipt or use the FSA online shop. Further questions about 2019 FSA claims should be directed to Benefits Strategies at 888-401-3539.

What if I exhibit symptoms or suspect I have been exposed to someone with COVID-19?
Refer to the Exposure Response and Protocol page as well as CDC guidelines. Inform your manager of the situation and fill out this private form to support the Schacht Center for Health and Wellness in its public health response. Updates can also be sent to healthservices@smith.edu with the subject “COVID follow up.” Please note that the Schacht Center cannot provide medical services to employees and is only acting in this case as a repository of community health information. If you are among those still working on campus, do not come to work until you have been cleared by a medical provider.

What is the status of casual and agency/temp employees?
All casual employees will be placed on a furlough effective March 20 and will receive regular pay for their scheduled hours from March 15 to March 28. Casual employees who have been employed at Smith for 10 or more years will receive an additional week of pay; those employed at Smith for 20 or more years will receive two additional weeks of pay. Workers employed through temporary agencies will stop working effective March 20.

Please note that casual and agency temporary employees will no longer be eligible for on-site or remote work without approval from both the cabinet member overseeing the office and the Office of Human Resources.

Is there any extra assistance for employees facing financial hardship, and how can I access it?
In response to the COVID-19 crisis, a Smith College Employee Assistance Fund was created to support employees and their families. All requests will be kept confidential. Complete the assistance fund form to submit an application. If you have any questions about the application process reach out to covid19info@smith.edu.

How does the Families First Coronavirus Response Act affect Smith’s benefits?
The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) was signed into law on March 17. Smith’s policies already exceed the new minimums set by this law.

How should I enter my time in Workday?
Smith College has created a new way to enter your time in Workday. These changes ensure that Smith can continue to pay employees and simultaneously provide data to help our HR team understand the impact of COVID-19 on employee pay and time-off banks. Please visit the Workday help site for job aids and a flowchart to help determine how to enter time and time-off on your timesheets.

How should I record time if I am unable to work while I provide care for a family member?
Employees who are taking leave to provide care for ill family members are asked to record this period as “sick time” with the reason as “COVID-19” in Workday. Employees who exhaust their sick time will be allowed to go to a negative sick balance to continue to be paid. Please visit Workday for job aides and a flowchart to help determine how to enter time and time-off on your timesheets.

Since students will not be returning, do I still have to come to work?
The college is not closed; however, to encourage social distancing, managers have worked with employees to arrange remote work scenarios wherever possible. If you are unsure whether to report to work, please contact your manager.

What considerations are being made for staff who are at risk of severe illness from COVID-19?
If you have a high-risk health condition, you should discuss your situation with your manager after first speaking with your primary care provider. If you cannot perform your work duties from home, your manager and human resources will work with you to evaluate your situation and explore potential solutions.

Will there be reductions in workforce or pay?
Staff will continue to work their scheduled hours and receive regular base pay. Opportunities for overtime work may be impacted. Any changes to your schedule will be communicated by your manager.

What if I become ill with COVID-19 and my sick time accrual is already depleted or becomes depleted during my time off?
Employees who have depleted their sick leave balances will have the ability to take additional sick time as needed without penalty. For other health-related absences, employees should follow regular procedures for using their sick time and requesting a leave of absence.

Will those in positions that provide services to students (dining services, residence life) earn the same pay if their jobs are reassigned?
Nonexempt employees covered by a collective bargaining agreement will be paid according to their contract.

Will the salaries of employees working remotely remain the same?
If the functions of your role are able to be handled remotely, your base pay will remain the same.

Are there any restrictions in place for travel?
Yes. No Smith-funded domestic travel beyond the Five Colleges is permitted. Personal travel beyond the Five Colleges is discouraged in the strongest terms.

How are reimbursements being handled for canceled business travel?
Employees should make every effort to recoup costs for canceled travel. Many airlines, for example, have waived flight cancelation or rescheduling fees. Employees unable to arrange for refunds should contact covid19info@smith.edu. Please see the controller's COVID-19 Reference Guide for more information.

Can students or employees return to campus if they have recently spent time in a country with a CDC level-3 designation?
Not immediately. The college now requires any student or employee returning from CDC level-3 countries to self-quarantine and remain symptom-free for a minimum of 14 days before returning to campus. If returning from a CDC alert-level 3 country, students are required to contact their class dean, and employees are required to contact Human Resources.

If I have already filled out the travel registry form, but my plans have changed, what should I do?
Please submit a new itinerary.

Is the college restricting international travel for Smith-funded summer programming?
The college is requiring that all Smith-funded international travel be canceled through May 1, but has not yet required further cancelation. Students and employees are advised to take extreme caution when making summer plans that include international travel, as CDC guidance and the college’s policy may change as the situation develops.