Find all of our updates on COVID-19 Novel Coronavirus.


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Updates on Covid-19 Novel Coronavirus

Hampshire is continuing our efforts to keep the community healthy and to monitor Coronavirus COVID-19

April 2, 2020

Dear Hampshire College Community,

Colleges and universities across the country are responding to community requests for urgent assistance during this pandemic. In Massachusetts, both local governments and the state Emergency Management Agency have approached institutions to help house medical workers and first responders, provide isolation and quarantine spaces, offer shelter for the unhoused, and provide cold storage spaces for bodies. Hampshire College’s mission encompasses ethical citizenship and social justice, so we need to be prepared to help where we can as we live our mission.

This week Hampshire College offered to work with the Town of Amherst to understand how we can assist their efforts to respond to the pandemic, such as offering space in empty dormitories. These conversations are in progress and nothing is settled yet; if approached, we will also work with the county or state. I will keep our community informed if we are called upon to help. We will continue to offer our support to the town, the county, and the state as needed during this crisis.

Specifically, we are preparing a portion of Dakin in case a request is made to provide housing. If we do partner with the town, county, or state, any offer of our campus facilities will not involve the work of our staff, beyond initial preparations of the building. If our facilities are used, the partner will staff all activities, cover all expenses, ensure the college has no liability, and professionally clean and sanitize any space after it is vacated. The College will only enter into a partnership if we are confident the terms protect the health and safety of our students and employees.

This situation demands generosity and cooperation among everyone, and Hampshire will do its part to help. I know this is a stressful time—I will do my best to keep people informed while also working to respond quickly to the needs of our community.

Ed Wingenbach
President

March 26, 2020: NOTICE: Covid-19 Case in the Hampshire Community

Dear Hampshire College Community,

Hampshire College has learned that one of our employees was confirmed this morning to have Covid-19. The employee has been out of office and not working on campus since Friday, March 13, and does not work directly with students. The employee had no campus contacts that put any student or colleague at risk of exposure, and a small number of employees who may have been in direct contact with the employee in the last 14 days have been notified. The employee’s work area has been thoroughly cleaned and disinfected.

It’s the college’s responsibility to notify our campus of a case of the disease in our community. The employee is following public health guidelines and recovering at home. Public health officials are leading the investigation into the employee’s case following standard practice.

The college will not release any identifying information about the employee out of respect for their privacy and applicable HIPAA privacy laws. We ask you to please respect their privacy—even if you believe you know who they are—so they can focus on recovering.

It’s likely Covid-19 will continue to spread in our region and further affect our college. We are providing you here with information on how to prevent, report and respond to potential cases.

Prevention

Please remember to practice preventive health and social distancing as recommended by the CDC, including:

  • Careful and frequent hand washing or cleaning with hand sanitizer.
  • Social distancing: Staying at least six feet away from other people and avoiding crowds and large gatherings. Where possible, work remotely and avoid crowded public spaces.
  • If you are sick, don’t spend time in any public spaces. Stay at home and self-isolate until all your symptoms are gone. This could be as long as 14 days.
  • Carefully disinfect and clean high-touch items.
  • Get an updated annual flu vaccine.

Responding to and Reporting Potential Cases of Covid-19

Patients with respiratory symptoms—sore throat, nasal congestion, fever, cough, or shortness of breath—are best triaged over the phone by medical staff. For mild to moderate symptoms, do not walk into a health office without calling first or enter any public spaces in order to limit risk of exposure to others.

If you have severe symptoms, including any difficulty breathing, call 911 for emergency response.

Students

Students who have left campus, please call your primary care provider for medical care. All students remaining in residence seeking medical care must call the Health Services office first. Contact Hampshire Health Services during normal business hours Monday–Friday 413.559.5458—this number may also be used for counseling and mental health services. After-hours medical advice is available 24/7 through UMass Triage 413.577.5229 or 413.577.5000.

Students, please contact Hampshire Health Services if you’ve been tested for Covid-19, to help us assess any impact on fellow community members.

Employees

Please contact your primary care provider(s) for medical and mental health care.

When you are not able to work for Covid-19-related circumstances affecting you or a family member, please contact Hampshire Human Resources (email jtHR@hampshire.edu) and your supervisor. Our employee assistance program, e4Health, has many benefits and supports for all employees and their immediate family members—800.828.6025.

Students and Employees

Please review more detailed guidance in the attached table based on similar protocols in place at UMass Health:

I encourage everyone to monitor your Hampshire email for continued Important Announcements (also posted here), along with our Frequently Asked Questions page.

Ed Wingenbach
President

March 25, 2020: Commencement Rescheduled

Students, Staff, Faculty,

Yesterday I met with students in a virtual Town Hall—the same day that the Governor’s two-week stay-at-home order took effect in the state of Massachusetts. As I acknowledged then, the Covid-19 pandemic has had an extraordinary effect on our world and our personal lives, creating a profound sense of loss for all of us, especially our Division III students. And while there is no game plan pre-written for such an unprecedented circumstance, I know that everyone at Hampshire is acting as efficiently and sympathetically as we can. I have tremendous faith in our resiliency and our ability to forge a path together.

In facing this challenge, Hampshire has real advantages over other colleges. We are not burdened by rigid requirements. We are used to being creative, innovative, and experimenting—and now we are being challenged to practice these skills in a situation that offers no precedent.

I am impressed with the way our community has responded together to this pandemic as we develop ways to complete the semester for our students without sacrificing quality or our values of close mentorship and co-learning. Students and faculty are encouraged to continue to work creatively to adapt projects so they can be completed remotely under new conditions and at a level that meets the expectations of the student and committee. Hampshire will support Div III students in completing their projects and graduating, and all of our students as they continue their learning remotely.

Many students are asking about our May Commencement, as many U.S. colleges and universities are rescheduling graduation ceremonies. Commencement is Hampshire’s largest event of the year, attracting thousands of attendees in celebration of our graduates, and requiring months of planning. To ensure we can safely and properly honor our 2020 graduates in person, Hampshire will reschedule Commencement to take place on campus to coincide with our 50th anniversary festivities the weekend of October 16-18. 

At the same time, the college is planning to recognize our 2020 graduates in May as much as we can through remote communications. We are also discussing the logistics of hosting one or more Div III showcases, either virtually this spring or on campus in the fall.

We will consult with graduates as we develop alternative celebrations to design events that everyone can enjoy. I am as disappointed as our students and families in the need to reschedule, but I know we will gather in celebration when it is safe to do so.

In response to the many questions we’ve received from students, we’ve posted revised FAQs today addressing a range of topics.

In early March more than 250 early action applicants received acceptance letters from Hampshire inviting them to enroll in our 50th anniversary class of fall 2020. This Friday Hampshire will send acceptance letters to hundreds more students who applied regular decision, inviting them to enroll in the fall. Hampshire will welcome our accepted students this spring through virtual Accepted Student Day events and via direct personal communications featuring faculty, staff, students, and alums. We will respond to this pandemic in the most positive, creative ways, and we will continue to be a college that offers a student-designed education not available from any other school.

It is particularly important that all of us strive to uphold the college’s mission to be ethical citizens of our campus, local, state, national, and global communities. We know that for too many in our communities, this virus is deadly. It is our obligation to do everything we can to reduce the burden on the health care system so people who get sick can receive treatment. I encourage us all to be sympathetic to and supportive of each other through this challenging time.

Ed Wingenbach

March 23, 2020: Update on Governor’s Stay-at-Home Order

Dear Students, Staff, Faculty,

Today Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker issued a two-week stay-at-home advisory and ordered all but essential businesses and services to operate remotely beginning tomorrow Tuesday, March 24, at noon, until Tuesday, April 7, at noon. Colleges like Hampshire are considered essential only for the purposes of facilitating distance learning and performing essential student support functions, and only as long as we are operating under rules for social distancing.

Per the order Massachusetts state residents are advised to stay home and avoid unnecessary travel and other unnecessary activities during the two-week time period. Similar orders have been issued by the states of Connecticut and New York where some of our employees live.

Students in Residence

Please be assured that the order allows us to continue to support the students living on campus, but we must shut down most other offices across campus. Students will have access to food services, health and counseling services, and basic residence services.

Hampshire students in residence may not leave campus except to travel for food or pharmacy, or to a job where they are considered an essential employee under the terms of the Governor’s order.

The stay-at-home order means no students will have physical access to any academic spaces on campus. The College will not consider reopening these spaces until we can be absolutely certain it is safe to do so. At this point, Division III students should assume that they will not have access to campus academic resources for the remainder of the spring semester and should be working with their committees to develop alternative approaches to complete their projects.

Hampshire Dining Commons will remain open daily 11:30 a.m.–6:30 p.m. for take-out orders at 413.559.6967.

This stay-at-home order highlights the seriousness of this illness for our community and our health care system. We urge students to follow strong social distancing practices including no social gatherings of any size, remaining largely in your mods or residence halls, and doing outdoor activity individually.

College Employees

Employees working remotely should continue to do so. Employees who are able to work remotely but have not been doing so should begin remote work now.

Employees who are not able to work remotely should receive guidance from their supervisor about whether or not they are allowed to work on campus during the stay-at-home order.

We will make sure employees are advised about any support the state or federal governments provide for employees who are unable to work during the stay-at-home order.

For guidance on employee work policies, Hampshire employees are encouraged to review our latest Human Resources announcements and to contact Human Resources with any questions at hr@hampshire.edu.

Remote Instruction Under the Order

Faculty members are expected to work from home during the stay-at-home order unless they absolutely cannot teach remotely without coming to campus.

Faculty who need supplies from their campus work spaces (office, lab, studio, etc.) should pick them up before Tuesday March 24 at noon, while practicing social distancing. After that point no faculty member should enter an academic building without permission for the duration of the stay-at-home order.

Faculty who cannot engage in remote instruction without being present on campus should contact Yaniris Fernandez immediately to explore alternative ways to support your teaching or, in the case that such alternatives cannot be arranged, to be given permission to be present on campus.

The Governor’s order does not make exceptions for allowing research, scholarship, or creative activity as these are not identified as essential functions justifying physical access to campus facilities during the stay-at-home order.

All Community Members

While this is an abrupt and quite serious decision, we were already largely in compliance with the expectations of the stay-at-home order. We will be able to follow the order’s guidelines while maintaining core functions and services. We will continue to provide information and guidance as it becomes available. Thank you all for your perseverance, and everything we are doing to protect the health and safety of all members of our community.
 

March 20, 2019: Update for Students

Dear Students,

Thank you for your patience and perseverance as we do our best as a community to respond to the challenge of the Covid-19 virus. The staff and faculty of Hampshire College are applying their creativity and critical thinking to design innovative ways to support your academic work as we adopt new and unexpected approaches. I know our students will match that ingenuity.

Many of you have questions, and will continue to have them. On Tuesday, March 24, I will host an online town hall meeting for students at 3 p.m., and will plan to schedule these meetings regularly. Details to log into the town hall will be coming in another message. I am holding separate town halls for parents/families, and faculty/staff.

Our faculty and staff have been collaborating to put in place plans for ad hoc remote instruction, and will continue to work on this intensively during our extended spring break (and beyond). The College has expanded our technical capacities to support remote learning and will continue to invest where needed.

Faculty members are working with Division III students to assess how best to complete quality projects remotely and still meet the (revised) May 8 Div III pass deadline. While projects may need to change, some even substantially, I am confident that the partnerships between Div III students and their committees, combined with the creativity all of us bring to our work, will generate excellent outcomes.

I also have some updates specifically for the small population of Hampshire students who are remaining in residence after March 22:

  • Please be prepared for possible significant changes in housing policies as the situation evolves. Yesterday the Governor of California issued a “safe at home” emergency order.  New York issued similar restrictions today.
  • If Hampshire College needs to restrict students in residence to campus, or if a “safe at home” order is issued by the state, I want to reassure you that we will be able to provide access to food.
  • We have developed policies to isolate any student who may develop respiratory symptoms that resemble Covid-19, and to continue that isolation for students who test positive or for whom a test is unavailable.
  • If one person in a mod needs to be isolated because they have respiratory symptoms that resemble Covid-19, the other residents of that mod will be required to self-quarantine, and remain in the mod for 14 days, or until the student in isolation is approved by Health Services to return to the mod.
  • The Dean of Faculty and School Deans have been consulting with the faculty to understand what access to academic spaces may be needed by Div III students. Based on those conversations, access to most academic spaces will be for limited times or by appointment, and only for Div III students with needs that faculty advisors judge cannot be otherwise met.
  • Appointments to work in academic spaces will depend upon the availability of key faculty and staff; as conditions change, we cannot guarantee that the appropriate people will be available to arrange appointments.
  • In extensive conversations with the Deans and consultation with staff and faculty who use and oversee facilities, the Dean of Faculty has determined that the following academic spaces are not absolutely necessary for students to complete their Division III work and will therefore remain closed:
    • The Gallery
    • Jerome Liebling Center
    • Music/Dance Building

When instruction resumes March 30, we anticipate Div III students with needs that cannot be otherwise met will have access to the following academic spaces at limited times or by appointment only:

  • Greenhouse
  • Theatre Shops
  • Media Services
  • Media Labs Library Basement
  • Arts Barn
  • Center for Design
  • Harold Johnson Library
  • Cole Science Labs
  • ASH Computer Labs

There have been a lot of emails and adjustments to policies, and this will continue. I encourage everyone to monitor your email for Covid-19 Important Announcements (also posted here) along with our Frequently Asked Questions page, which is also updated regularly.

Please remember to practice preventive health and social distancing as recommended by the CDC.

When we resume instruction on March 30, I am confident that our students will be able to continue to pursue the distinctive questions, projects, and creative work that make Hampshire so unique and our self-directed students so impressive. Flexibility, openness, creativity, and commitment to experimenting are the traits all colleges need to navigate this unprecedented disruption — fortunately, those constitute the essence of Hampshire’s identity.

Ed Wingenbach

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>> See updates for faculty and staff here

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