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News & Events

Covid-19 Information

This fall, we will welcome all of our new and returning students to campus. The Covid Response Team (CRT) will continue to monitor and respond to the most up-to-date CDC guidance, health data in Hampshire and surrounding counties, as well as any changes in state or local public health regulations, and adjust campus policy accordingly. Hampshire College remains committed to providing a vibrant, fully in-person educational and social experience to our new and returning students.

Hampshire College is planning onboarding asymptomatic testing for all students after arrival to campus to start the fall semester. Local trends in vaccination status, test positivity percentage, and rate of COVID-19 infection in the community will help determine the need for any regular asymptomatic testing in the fall. The CDC does not currently recommend regular asymptomatic testing for fully vaccinated individuals.

>> Hampshire's COVID-19 Higher Education Control Plan


Information will be added here as we have it, and is subject to change.

August 2, 2021: Policy Updates and Reminders from the Covid Response Team

CDC Recommendation Updates

Masking

On July 27, in response to increasing case rates of the OVID-19 virus and the prevalence of the Delta variant, the CDC updated its guidance for fully vaccinated individuals. The CDC has modified its mask guidance for fully vaccinated individuals. This guidance recommends that fully vaccinated individuals wear masks indoors in areas with “substantial” or “high” transmission

As of August 1, Hampshire County is classified as “moderate” risk. Hampshire College will return to masking for all faculty/staff/students/visitors in shared indoor spaces if Hampshire County reaches a rate of “substantial” transmission. Our current policy is that masks are optional for fully vaccinated faculty, staff, and students, as well as our Five College partners. 

Masks continue to be required in indoor spaces for visitors and all unvaccinated individuals. Mask use may also be indicated for outdoor events and other activities where physical distancing cannot be maintained. In keeping with the new CDC recommendations, a person may choose to mask regardless of transmission rates if that person or someone in their household is immunocompromised or at increased risk for severe disease, or if someone in their household is unvaccinated. All vaccinated community members should feel welcome to wear masks in indoor spaces on campus if their personal assessment of risk so indicates; mask wearing should not be considered an indicator of vaccination status.

Because of travel into campus from other areas, we will require campus-wide indoor masking in shared spaces during these periods under the current CDC guidance. This includes (but may not be limited to) student return to campus and onboarding (August 14–30). The onboarding process will include asymptomatic testing for all faculty, staff, and students on campus.

Symptom Screening & Testing

The CDC also recommends that fully vaccinated people who have a known exposure to COVID-19 get tested 3-5 days after exposure, and that symptomatic individuals also test. Testing is readily available from a wide range of health care providers, and is expected to remain so.

Symptomatic people should not come to campus. People should wear a mask in public indoor areas while awaiting a test result. Anyone coming to the Hampshire College campus should self-screen for symptoms daily and follow CDC guidance on masking and testing.

Departmental Supplies

With indoor mask requirements in place for visitors, departments may want to keep a box of disposable masks on hand to make sure that they don’t need to turn anyone away. Disposable masks are available from the Duplications Center (duplications@hampshire.edu), and will remain available to departments without charge, so please request just what you need. Hand sanitizer and surface wipes are also available; while data indicates that surfaces are not a common transmission source for COVID-19, good hand and surface hygiene remains a wise practice as we enter cold and flu season.

Space Usage

During last year’s state and local occupancy restrictions, the College used the Ad Astra booking system extensively to help locate spaces for meetings and events. Most conference rooms and lounges were limited to a handful of people, making them essentially unusable. Occupancies have returned to normal across campus, but we encourage the community to continue to seek out and explore spaces outside of their departments—for new employees especially, getting out to see more of campus is great.

In addition, people loved having more outdoor seating last year (a necessity when the dining commons seating was closed, but a nice extra now). We will continue to provide additional outdoor seating throughout campus, and will be reinstating outdoor compost collection in commonly used eating areas when students return.
 
We will provide updates and more details as we draw closer to welcoming new and returning students back to campus.


July 30, 2021: Covid-19 Vaccine Requirement for Employees

Dear Staff and Faculty,

You have all worked diligently to create a campus environment that supports working with students in ways that are essential to our mission and values as a residential liberal arts college. Thank you. As we move toward the fall semester, maximizing vaccination rates within the Hampshire College community represents the best and most effective means to limit incidence and spread of Covid-19, and we have required all students to be vaccinated for the fall. While voluntary employee vaccination rates appear to be quite high, recent public health developments have led us to conclude that all people working and learning at Hampshire College should be vaccinated. After consulting with the Covid Response Team and Senior Leadership, I have determined that the College will require all employees to demonstrate that they have received their final dose of vaccine by September 8, 2021. 

We are already quite close to the goal. Based on the confidential vaccination survey, 94% of employees are already fully vaccinated, and another 2% are in the process of being vaccinated. Given those results, we believe it is important to close this small gap and ensure universal vaccination on our campus, with the potential exception of those who require medical or religious exemptions, as noted below.

Vaccination appointments are widely available in the Amherst area and in Massachusetts; many locations take walk-in appointments with little or no waiting. If you need to make an appointment, the state provides a website to assist. Please remember that employees who need to leave work to attend a vaccination appointment may do so without losing compensation, and that employees who have any adverse reaction to a vaccination are granted paid time off the day following their shot.

Employees who have a medical contraindication to Covid-19 vaccines that does not allow for full vaccination or whose sincerely held religious beliefs do not allow vaccination may request an exemption; these requests will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. Contact Human Resources for more information about exemptions.

There is no need to act immediately to confirm your vaccination status; the College is working on a confidential reporting system and will communicate that process when it is in place. All employees will need to show official documentation that includes their name, vaccine brand, and date(s) of administration. We suggest employees have their documentation readily available to bring to work when requested to do so.

Employees who do not have an exemption and have not received their final dose of the vaccine by September 8, 2021 will immediately be placed on unpaid leave while their division head and Human Resources review their progress toward vaccination or application for exemption. Upon completion of review, failure to provide either proof of vaccination or a medical or religious exemption will result in termination of employment.

Finally, all employees who are not fully vaccinated must wear a face covering at all times when indoors, and outside when unable to maintain social distancing.  Unvaccinated employees may be subject to additional public health measures, such as testing, depending on current public health recommendations and best practices. Unvaccinated employees who do not follow this policy are subject to disciplinary action. Please remember that people may wear masks for many reasons and that wearing a mask does not mean a person is unvaccinated.

Ed Wingenbach


June 14, 2021: Update from the COVID-19 Response Team

Face Covering

Face coverings are no longer required anywhere on campus for fully vaccinated employees or students. People are fully vaccinated two weeks after their final shot.

Employees and students who are not fully vaccinated must continue to wear face coverings in all indoor spaces except private offices. Employees and students who are not fully vaccinated must wear a face covering outdoors when physical distancing cannot be maintained (such as during group activities or teamed work).

Remember that fully vaccinated people may choose to wear a mask for a variety of reasons. Please be respectful and understanding of this and avoid stigmatizing behavior.

Guests and visitors are required to wear face coverings indoors at all times.

These policies are subject to change in response to shifts in local or regional conditions or state local regulations. Face-covering policies for the fall semester have not yet been determined.

College Sponsored Travel

College-sponsored travel within the United States and Canada no longer requires authorization by the President. Employees and students traveling within the United States and Canada may return to normal travel policies. No college-sponsored international travel is permitted to any country other than Canada, unless specifically authorized by the President.


May 28, 2021: Update from the COVID-19 Response Team

The COVID-19 Response Team (CRT) is continually evaluating changes in Federal and State guidance in the context of our campus needs and priorities. Significant changes to Massachusetts COVID-19 emergency orders will be taking place May 29 under COVID-19 Order #69, in response to earlier changes in CDC guidance and positive trends in public health data. Hampshire College had also previously announced changes to campus policies and operations to take place on Tuesday, June 1.

The following policies and operational standards will be in place beginning Tuesday, June 1.

The updates listed below are for general college work and operations.  Consistent with past policy, external rentals (including, but not limited to, events booked at the Red Barn), as well as activities in areas with sector-specific guidelines (such as the Early Learning Center), may have different operating guidelines.

Face Covering Policy

Face coverings are no longer required outdoors on campus, except when physical distancing cannot be maintained (such as during group activities or teamed work).

Face coverings continue to be required indoors, in all spaces except private offices. 

The CRT is continuing to collect and evaluate campus and community health data, including but not limited to vaccination rates, and will discuss potential changes to the indoor face covering policy on June 10. Better understanding what portion of our workforce is vaccinated is a key factor in determining whether relaxing indoor face-covering requirements is reasonable. The CRT strongly encourages everyone to complete the voluntary vaccination survey sent by HR to all employees.  Additional survey reminders, with clickable link, will be sent to those who need to complete the survey on June 2 and 4. 

Visitors

As of June 1, visitors are allowed on campus without an approval process. Offices may re-open to the public at this time.  All visitors must follow current State, local, and college regulations when on campus, including wearing face-coverings indoors at all times.

Vendors and contractors should continue to register with Environmental Health and Safety before coming to campus, so that we can review our current COVID-19 protocols with them.

Occupancy and Space Usage

The State of Massachusetts has indicated that they plan to lift occupancy limits in workplaces on or soon after May 29; the CRT is currently awaiting further guidance from the State.  Hampshire has been operating at 50% occupancy; this means 1 person per 100 square feet, except in spaces with specific posted code occupancy.  This applies to all uses, including independent work, meetings, activities, etc.

Once the state issues clear guidance updates for workplaces, space capacities will be promptly updated in Ad Astra to match current state regulations. A campus-wide information and signage update will be done in conjunction with return to work and fall semester planning, with a completion date in early August.  If your department is finding it difficult to operate at the currently posted occupancies, please contact Elizabeth Craun (ecPP@hampshire.edu) directly to develop a department-specific plan.

Faculty and staff are encouraged to seek out large, well ventilated spaces to hold gatherings such as meetings, as well as to continue to hold meetings virtually when appropriate.  The Ad Astra booking system is the best way to find and reserve rooms, and Event Services will coordinate with Campus Safety, Facilities, and any other departments that are required to make sure your meeting or event runs smoothly.


April 22, 2021: COVID-19 Student Vaccination Requirement for Fall

Dear Students, Staff, and Faculty,

Last month I shared our expectation that we will return to an in-person, fully residential, personalized, and safe college experience for the fall semester. To reach this vision, Hampshire College will require students to be vaccinated against COVID-19 before arriving on campus for the fall Semester. Requests for exceptions for medical or religious reasons will be evaluated following our regular policies. Our expectation is that by the fall the College community will consist predominantly of vaccinated individuals, which will significantly reduce the risk of infection for all. Students who cannot obtain a vaccination before arriving next semester will need to do so when they get to Hampshire; we will work on ways to facilitate access. I invite all returning students to take advantage of the on-campus vaccination clinic occurring on April 25.

As vaccination rates and availability increase across the country, I am even more confident that the Hampshire College community can create a campus environment very much like the one we enjoyed before the pandemic. We demonstrated a remarkable dedication to the health of everyone in our community this year by maintaining safe practices, even as it has grown tiring to do so, and I know we will continue to be guided by shared commitments to scientific evidence and care for one another.

I strongly encourage all faculty and staff at Hampshire College to get vaccinated against Covid-19 as soon as possible, including at the on-campus clinic this Sunday. All employees may request leave time for vaccination appointments during work hours, and are entitled to paid time off the day following a vaccination if they experience side effects; this does not count against sick days. Our objective should be to create a community with near universal vaccination, both to protect those few people who cannot take the vaccine for medical or religious reasons, and to contribute to the safety of our neighbors. We are following the evolution of federal and state guidance regarding requiring vaccination of employees, and will continue to evaluate the possibility of mandating it.

I look forward to rebuilding a vibrant, connected, supportive campus community, after this year of distancing and anxiety. Thanks to everyone for your endurance and ongoing efforts to create a safe learning and working environment during these extraordinary times.

Ed Wingenbach
President


 

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