Classes to Begin August 25: Planning for Fall at Hampshire

This spring and summer have brought grief and outrage but also renewed energy, hope, and movement toward building a more just and sustainable society. At Hampshire, we are working to identify and dismantle the structures of implicit bias and white supremacy that have marked our own institution and to live up to our ideals as a college committed to social justice and equity. Our faculty are building a curriculum that engages students to address racism, pandemics, climate change, and other crucial problems of our time, and to respond to them with creativity and determination.

We are applying the same creative thinking to the challenge of designing a safe, meaningful college experience in the face of COVID-19. This fall, we expect to welcome all of our new and returning students to campus. Our clear plans will create an environment that preserves the immense benefits of a residential campus while minimizing opportunities for potential transmission of the virus. We will provide a comprehensive range of programming to support community engagement and connection, following guidelines for safe social distancing when in person, and also offering online options such as lectures, presentations and interactive discussions.

New Dates for Fall Semester

Fall classes will now begin on August 25 and end on November 20, the Friday prior to Thanksgiving. Once students arrive on campus, they will be expected to remain until the end of classes. There will not be an extended fall break. Please note we are not shortening the fall calendar; we are starting and finishing earlier and compressing the calendar by eliminating breaks, allowing us to teach a full semester within a compressed time frame. Students are welcome to remain in residence through the end of the term in early December, as long as they remain on campus during the Thanksgiving Break. Students who leave campus for Thanksgiving will not return until the beginning of the spring term.

Faculty are currently building course options and schedules that provide for adaptability and support to meet students’ needs. The course registration process is still in flux, as faculty at Hampshire and the other Five Colleges redesign and reschedule their courses. We are coordinating with our Five College partners so that Hampshire students may continue to take courses at the other institutions, though likely only in an online mode. As soon as these issues are settled, we will let you know and provide updated information about course registration.

Safe On-Campus Living

Every Hampshire student will have their own single room. Occupied rooms will be spread out within campus residences, maintaining all areas below 50% capacity. The number of students sharing any bathroom will be strictly limited. Our food services are prepared for in-person dining, pick-up meals, or food delivery, depending on the state guidelines in place in the fall. Making sure every student has the space to maintain social distancing in their daily living situation is the minimum expectation any college should have in order to open – we will more than meet that standard.

Accommodations for Learning

Academic courses and student activities will observe social distancing guidelines while providing ample opportunity for the sort of interaction and personalized attention that characterizes a Hampshire education. We will hold seminar meetings in rooms that accommodate adequate spacing and will follow guidelines for facial coverings. We are expanding the course schedule so that class meetings can be spread out to reduce traffic within academic buildings. Every class will be designed to include online options to accommodate changing circumstances without disrupting the academic experience, and to accommodate the use of spaces and equipment in areas with limited capacity for social distancing. Student activities and co-curricular opportunities are being thoughtfully designed to support vibrant programs while respecting limits on gathering sizes and space usage.

Ensuring Health and Wellness

Hampshire has a strong plan in place to address medical concerns. The Hampshire COVID-19 response team is in the process of evaluating several state and national recommendations for campus testing programs. The group will have detailed plans for student COVID-19 screening testing requirements for before and after return to campus. There will also be ample same-day symptomatic COVID-19 testing available on campus this fall. Expect to see more information about testing in the next two weeks.

There are plans in place for designated isolation or quarantine housing, along with dining, medical, and residential support for students who may need to be in quarantine because of COVID-19 exposure on campus this fall semester.

Hampshire has an extraordinarily dedicated faculty and staff, a spacious campus, access to state-of-the-art medical services, and a commitment to experimentation, creativity, and problem solving. Few other colleges have these advantages, which is why we are so confident that, if any colleges are open for in-person learning in the fall, we will lead the way.

Djola Branner, Vice President for Student Affairs 
Professor of Theatre

Christoph Cox, incoming Dean of Faculty & Vice President for Academic Affairs
Professor of Philosophy

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