Which students have priority for being on campus in the spring?
The following students have priority to be on campus in the fall:
Incoming and returning transfer students
Students whose home circumstances impede their academic progress (by petition)
The only exceptions to this priority list are those students who were on leave in the fall semester and who did not request and receive readmission to the College by the October 15 readmission from leave deadline. These students, should they wish to return, will be added to the waitlist process, and also must be approved for readmission by your Class Dean.
How does the petition process work for students whose home circumstances impede their academic progress?
The requests will be reviewed by a committee including members of case management, the class deans office, and admissions. The committee will be considering the the following criteria:
Students from countries with travel restrictions.
Independent students where Amherst is home.
Students with extenuating circumstances that make the completion of academic coursework remotely extremely challenging or impossible, including:
No access to internet or appropriate technology (Amherst will first work with students that require augmented technology and/or WiFi access by offering equipment or other assistance.)
No access to private space conducive to remote learning.
We will let students know the result of their petition by November 18.
Which students have not been given priority for the spring and is there any possibility that they will be able to learn on campus?
Students who were not given priority for the spring will be given the opportunity to put their names on a waitlist should space on campus become available. We will not know until at least mid-November if there will be room, at which point we will send out further details if we are able to move to a waitlist process.
Those students include:
How will financial aid work for remote students?
Students who are remote will not be charged room and board. You can expect your billed costs to be lower, but your family contribution will be the same but allocated differently (to living and personal expenses) based on what is on the bill. The financial aid budget used to determine the grant amount will include a semester allowance (or your country's equivalent) for living expenses. The financial aid office will be revising aid packages to reflect students who are remote after the intent form is received. This video provides more detail on how the living allowance will be realized.
When will I find out about housing?
We will open the housing portal for students to indicate their preferences from November 18 to December 2nd at 5 pm. Residential Life will then work on assignments based on the preferences starting December 3rd and notify students around December 18th.
Why can’t the College bring back all students?
The College is inviting approximately 1,200 students to return (60% of the student body), which is equivalent to the number of single rooms available in the residence halls that are not being reserved for quarantine or isolation. In addition to increasing physical distancing, single rooms offer privacy and quiet for online learning and for telehealth or other appointments. We hope to bring back as many sophomores as possible and will have more information about that on November 18.
Why was the sophomore class chosen not to return?
Priority was given to juniors and seniors who were not invited to campus this fall. We then had to make the difficult decision about who else to invite, given the single-room limit. We invited first-year students because we know how critical the first year is to ensuring persistence in college. We do hope to bring back as many sophomores as possible.
Why isn’t the College moving the start of the spring semester later in February, to avoid the worst of the cold weather and/or a wintertime COVID spike, and to allow more time for a possible vaccine?
The spring semester will start several weeks later than usual, but without a clear date in sight for an effective and widely available vaccine—and since many students utilize the summer months to further their learning in other ways such as research, internships, and other employment—we are not further delaying the semester’s start at this time. The College may revisit this decision if warranted by national and local circumstances later this winter.
Do I have to wear a face mask?
Yes. We require face masks or other face coverings to be worn on campus in all spaces, inside and outside, with the exception of when you are alone in a private personal office or residence hall room.
Even if you are not showing symptoms of COVID-19, you could still be spreading the virus. Amherst College requires face masks or other face coverings to be worn on campus in all spaces, inside and outside, with the exception of when you are alone in a private personal office or residence hall room. Make sure the mask covers your mouth and nose.
The College will provide students, faculty and staff with disposable pleated filter face masks. The College has assembled a large inventory of these face masks, and they will be distributed periodically so that masks can be replenished if they wear out or are lost. Please note, a mask is not a substitute for physical distancing. You should continue to keep at least a six-foot distance between yourself and others even when wearing masks.
Cloth face coverings are also allowed, but it should be noted that they are not as effective as the College-provided masks. A cloth face covering should:
Specialized transparent masks will be available for classroom use by faculty and students for special pedagogical circumstances (language instruction, performance, etc.) when it is critical to see mouth movement.
In addition to wearing a mask, what other safety precautions will I be required to follow?
In addition to wearing a mask, all members of the community will be required to follow additional safety precautions established by the College in accordance with guidance from public health experts. These safety precautions will be included in applicable College reopening plans as required by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. These safety precautions may change as information about the coronavirus evolves. At a minimum, we expect that the following safety precautions will be applicable until a vaccine has been developed and is widely available: practice physical distancing, participate in the College’s frequent testing program and daily health status check, practice good and regular hygiene, and self-monitor for symptoms.
All members of the community are also required to complete an online COVID-19 safety training.
What happens if someone doesn’t follow the College’s safety precautions?
Community safety during a pandemic is a collective responsibility. Therefore, all members of our community are required to abide by a Statement of Shared Responsibility, and there are appropriate consequences for any member of the community who fails to adhere to the College’s safety precautions. For students, depending on the severity or frequency of the infractions, those consequences could ultimately include dismissal from campus housing, although they would be allowed to continue their studies remotely.
The College will undertake an educational campaign to promote awareness of the College’s safety precautions among all members of the community.
Has the College purchased sufficient Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)?
The College has embarked on an aggressive program of purchasing appropriate PPE to be issued to the campus. This includes masks, disinfecting and cleaning materials, gloves, temperature checking stations, thermometers and plexiglass partitions. In addition, the College has acquired sufficient job-specific equipment for our front line staff and our health professionals.
Has the College enhanced cleaning and disinfecting regimens?
Amherst College custodial staff follows a plan of enhanced cleaning in residence halls, offices, common spaces and restrooms. We will provide disinfecting supplies to employees and students; please contact the Service Center at 413-542-2254 if you need them. Keeping surfaces clean is a shared responsibility.
In addition, we ask that you avoid using one another’s phones, desks, offices or other work tools and equipment whenever possible. Make sure to wash your hands with soap and water frequently and clean and disinfect work spaces at least once per day. Do not use cleaning products that will damage the surfaces being cleaned. Please contact the Office of Environmental Health and Safety at 413-542-8189 with questions.
Has the College improved building air exchange?
Wherever possible, Amherst College Facilities Operations is increasing fresh air exchange in campus buildings that have mechanical ventilation. High efficiency filtration is being installed in recirculated air systems, where feasible. For buildings without mechanical ventilation, you are encouraged to open exterior windows to promote natural air circulation. Even during colder weather when it is only possible to crack windows open slightly, this will enhance air quality. See more information about building ventilation.
Has the College made changes to the facilities and classrooms to facilitate physical distancing?
The furniture and layout of classrooms and public spaces have been de-densified to allow for physical distancing. In high-density areas or where transactions prevent appropriate distancing, plexiglass shields are present.
Will students be asked to sign a liability waiver to return to campus?
No. Students will, however, be asked to acknowledge that they have read the Statement of Shared Responsibility, have completed the Health Guidelines Training as part of the College's return-to-campus procedures, and agree to follow all safety measures.
Will Amherst provide me with masks or face coverings?
Yes. The College will provide students, faculty and staff with disposable pleated filter face masks. The College has assembled a large inventory of these face masks, and they will be distributed periodically so that masks can be replenished if they wear out or are lost. You are also welcome to wear a cloth face covering that you may already own.
What if I am unable to wear a mask or face covering due to a documented health issue?
Students who are unable to wear a mask or face covering due to a documented health issue should contact the Student Accessibility Office for guidance.
Will there be training and education about the expectations and how to be a healthy community?
Yes. All members of the community are required to complete an online COVID-19 safety training. In addition, there will be information for returning students.
What will testing look like for the spring?
At this point, we expect all students to be tested upon arrival to campus and then 3-5 days afterwards, during which time students will be in a travel quarantine. Depending on the length of the quarantine, this may overlap with the first week of classes. For the rest of the semester, students will be tested three times a week.
How is testing conducted?
Students are scheduled to report to the testing center at a designated time 3 days per week. They have access to their test results and are notified if the results are positive.
What should I do if I think I have COVID-19?
According to the CDC, the most common symptoms of COVID-19 include fever or chills, coughing, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting, and diarrhea. Symptoms may appear as soon as two days of exposure and vary in severity from person to person. Students are expected to complete a daily health status check before leaving their room each day. Students are expected to stay at in their room if they feel ill and to call Student Health Services.
What care and support will I receive if I am in isolation or quarantine?
The college will provide students with regular health check-ins. These check-ins may be via symptom questionnaire, phone call, telehealth or in person. Meals, transportation to and from medical care, and extended cleaning protocols will be provided for students in isolation.
If I test positive and become sick, will someone be able to come to campus and help me?
No, students who test positive for COVID-19 will be moved to isolation. If the student would like to leave campus for the remainder of the semester and finish remotely, someone can travel to pick the student up and take them home.
What will happen if there is a significant health event/COVID-19 outbreak on campus or in the Pioneer Valley?
Students should be prepared for the possibility that they will need to leave campus in the event of an outbreak that leads to a decision to close, similar to the decision reached in March 2020. Students will be asked to pack light and bring to campus only those items that they can take with them if required to leave on short notice.
What are the steps the College will take if someone tests positive for COVID-19?
If a student living on campus tests positive for COVID-19, they will be moved to an isolation room, and the College will follow our contact tracing procedures. The College has set aside space for students who need to be isolated and quarantined, and will provide support for students to continue learning remotely from their new room until they can return to their assigned room.
If a faculty or staff member tests positive, they should contact their primary health care provider and notify their supervisor or department head of the anticipated duration of their absence from work. If the test was arranged through the College, the College will receive notification from the testing provider and will follow our contact tracing procedures.
How will I learn more details about returning to campus and life on campus?
Dean of Students Liz Agosto will send messages on a regular basis updating students about new developments. In addition, answers to frequently asked questions will be posted here on this page.
What are some of the major ways I can expect life on campus to be different from prior years?
In order to best support the health and wellbeing of the community, students should expect that life on campus will be markedly different from their previous experiences. Students will be expected to follow all health protocols including the wearing of face coverings in all public spaces, maintaining physical distances and restrictions regarding the use of common spaces such as kitchens, laundry rooms and lounges. In addition, at least initially, students will be allowed entry only into their assigned residence hall; once students have received three negative tests in a row, and assuming there is no outbreak on campus, food delivery and other programs can be reinstated. As we did in the fall, if the indicators are consistently where they need to be, we will consider revisiting guidelines regarding other aspects of campus life. Opportunities to gather in small groups will be available but any gatherings must comply with group size restrictions, use of face coverings and physical distancing requirements. However, students will not be allowed to leave campus (exceptions will be made for students with a legitimate need to travel away from campus which must be approved in advance by OSA) and no off-campus guests, including family members, will be allowed on campus. Modifications to policies may be made at any time if required by new guidelines issued by the state.
If I am living off campus, will I be able to come to campus?
Students who choose to live off campus are discouraged from living in the Amherst area; they will not have access to campus and will need to take their courses remotely. We will reach out to students who have requested to live off campus to provide more information about options and next steps.
Will I be able to participate in community service or volunteer work?
Although we will not allow members of the local community to visit campus, we encourage student groups to think about maintaining virtual connections with organizations such as Big Brothers Big Sisters and to strategize ways to continue the work in a virtual setting until circumstances allow for regular operations.
Will I be able to practice and perform with my singing/a cappella group?
Given what is currently known about the increased risk of transmission of the coronavirus, these groups are currently not able to meet to practice and perform in person.
Will there be any in-person student activities available to students living on campus?
Yes. We are working with campus partners, such as Student Activities, Residential Life, Religious and Spiritual Life, the Resource Center Team, Athletics, Book and Plow Farm and others, to create events that will range from outdoor yoga to small fire-pit gatherings to movie nights and more! These will be posted on The Hub and the Student Activities web page.
What will happen with student-led clubs and their activities?
While there will be limitations as to what is possible for in-person engagement, we will still provide spaces and opportunities for those students who are on campus to connect in groups of fewer than 10 in outdoor settings. There will not be a one-for-one alternative experience for every major event created by student groups, but we will work with group leaders to replicate those efforts in a virtual space, as well as other alternatives. Some activities will simply have to wait for the spring, particularly activities that are consistently off campus. It’s important that groups understand that the paradigm for engagement will be different, but that doesn’t mean that those opportunities that are offered won’t be meaningful.
How will I find out about clubs and activities that will be available digitally? How do I join them?
Clubs and activities are hosted on our student engagement site, The Hub. Organizations will continue to operate, but with limited in-person engagements. We will be encouraging student group leaders to keep their organization’s page updated and work with groups to create meaningful opportunities for community connections. We will continue to advertise these opportunities on the College’s event calendar, on the Student Activities webpage and social media (Instagram/Facebook).
How will student activities be scheduled in ways that are fair for students in all time zones?
For our virtual offerings, we will explore expanding the window we would usually program within and provide multiple offerings at disparate times for students to actively participate regardless of their time zone. We will likely need to rely on advance sign-ups so we can cater to collective schedules. We will be working with students for the creation of those activities to ensure we’re plugged into what is most exciting to their peers and get a sense of who is opting to take part, better informing us of best timing.
Will there be digital opportunities to practice our faith and faith-related events with other Amherst students?
Religious and Spiritual Life will continue and expand remote offerings begun in spring 2020. Each religious advisor will be remotely offering weekly groups, one-on-one spiritual counseling and opportunities to celebrate religious holidays. We will also assess what we are able to provide in person on campus while focusing mostly on remote options that reduce risk and include both on- and off-campus students.
If I am not eligible to return to campus, yet technology challenges will affect my ability to learn remotely, what are my options?
The College is committed to making remote learning possible for all students. Any student who experiences technology challenges should reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.
How will access to campus facilities be different?
For residence halls, at least initially, students will have card access only to their assigned hall. Students will not be able to enter any residence hall except the one to which they have been assigned. Once the testing protocol is well established and if the indicators are consistently where they need to be and there are no outbreaks on campus, students will be allowed access to other residence halls with certain restrictions. Students will be required to swipe into all academic and non-residence hall facilities. Visitors and guests will not be allowed into residence halls or other facilities.
Will students be able to work on campus?
Yes, assuming that the job can be done within the state’s and College’s health and safety guidelines.
If I am living on campus, will I be able to leave campus?
In order to limit the risk of contracting COVID-19, student travel off campus is prohibited, including into the town of Amherst.
Residents who have legitimate need to travel away from campus (for example: medical appointments, collection of prescription; family emergency) must inform Student Affairs prior to leaving campus. Student Affairs will partner with residents to identify the most effective method for accomplishing travel and any expectations upon return. We will provide more information about this in the coming weeks.
What if I need snacks or other necessities?
A convenience store is operating in our Schwemm’s location and provides students with many of the items they need so that they do not need to travel into town.
Will there be a shop on campus for office supplies?
The campus store at Schwemmns carries common office supplies that students would typically get at Hastings. If an item is not carried, students may request it from the cashier and we will make our best efforts to obtain it.
We recognize that there are additional questions that may be unique to international students. Please review the information provided by the Center for International Student Engagement and feel free to contact Hanna Bliss at email@example.com.
How will I get my meals?
We are offering a grab-and-go meal at multiple locations around campus for students. This model aligns with our mission to create a safe campus environment by encouraging physical distancing. Students will be asked to choose a pickup time through a dining app. Meals will be made in Valentine and distributed to four locations:
Each location will be serving the same menu, which will include vegetarian, vegan and allergen-free options. Meals will be served in reusable containers that will need to be returned to the dining locations for collection.
Will the cafes on campus be open?
The Science Center cafe will be open Monday - Thursday, 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. and Fridays 9:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.
Will there be sit-down dining in the Spring?
Currently, there are no plans for on-site dining in any of the dining locations. We are hopeful that this could change, however, our highest priority is maintaining a dining program that is safe for students and staff.
What are the hours of service for dining?
We are planning on opening for the following hours:
Monday - Friday
Breakfast 7:30 -10:00 a.m.
Lunch 11:30 a.m.-2:00 p.m.
Dinner 5:00 -8:00 p.m.
Saturday - Sunday
Breakfast 8:00-10:00 a.m.
Lunch 11:30 a.m.-2:00 p.m.
Dinner 5:00 -8:00 p.m.
Late Night Dining
Tuesday - Saturday
9:30 p.m.-12:00 (midnight)
How can students access food between dining hours?
The Science Center Cafe will be open for food service. We also have added a Convenience store at Schwemm's. This location offers many snacks, and beverages as well as health and body care items.
What menus will be available?
Many of the same menu items will be available. We are testing a 2-week cycle menu with our current students and we are developing a menu specifically for students who have food allergies.
How will food be served to go?
Food will be served in containers. Many of these containers are reusable and will need to be returned to use for washing. We are also looking at to-go hot cups that are reusable.
How will dietary restrictions be accommodated?
We are using a separate kitchen for all meals that are prepared for students with food allergies. These will be served out of our Lewis Sebring Dining Room (Valentine Hall). We are planning on serving Halal out of this location as well. Having one location will create a better service model for students with a dedicated staff to ensure the integrity of the products. For more information please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.
What health and safety protocols will be in place to protect students and dining employees?
Safety is our #1 priority. Masks will be worn by all staff, and shields are being built and purchased so that we can protect our community. We also have cleaning and sanitation protocols scheduled between each meal.
Our reusable containers will be washed and sanitized between uses. We have also purchased equipment for the safe handling of food while in transport and in each dining location. We feel strongly that we have developed a safe and reliable system to ensure the resiliency of our food system on campus.
Will catering be available for students or employees?
We do not expect to offer catering until we are comfortable with the student dining program. Even then we expect to wait until there is evidence we can do this safely. Stay tuned on this.
[Updated 8/13/20] In what ways is Amherst addressing the needs of students with financial need?
As always, Amherst admits students on a need-blind basis, meets the full need of every admitted student, domestic or international, and does not include a presumption of loans in its financial aid packages. In these difficult times, we anticipate that the needs of our students and families will increase, and we will meet that need with increased grant aid. In addition, we have already waived the typical summer earnings component for all aided students, whether they have been able to find work this summer or not, and will also waive the term-time student employment component, replacing both with grants. For any student who studies remotely, we will not charge room and board. Students who study remotely and qualify for need-based financial aid will be provided an allowance for personal and living expenses of $4,500 (or your country's equivalent) per semester in our financial aid calculations.
What if I fail or withdraw from one of my three courses? Would this have implications for financial aid?
Students who are enrolled full time (three courses) through the add/drop period will be considered full-time students and will be eligible for federal aid. Students with an approved reduced course load accommodation who enroll in two courses or drop down to two courses within the add/drop period will be considered enrolled half time, which will require a reevaluation of their federal financial aid.
Why isn't Amherst offering a discount in its comprehensive fee to all of its students this upcoming year, given the limitations that the pandemic will bring to the student learning and co-curricular experience?
Many students will experience lower costs for their Amherst experience in 2020-21. All students qualifying for need-based financial aid will have their Amherst grant increased by the amount of the summer work and term-time student employment amount, which for most students is $4,600. All students who study remotely will not be charged room and board. Students qualifying for need-based financial aid who study remotely will receive an allowance for personal and living expenses.
While the 2020-21 academic year will be different in many ways, we are confident that, as always, there remains tremendous value in the education that we provide. We are pleased to offer the additional option of a January term, at no cost, for all, any students who are enrolled for either the fall or spring semester (or both), and whether they study remotely or on campus. We have invested heavily in improved teaching technologies to improve the experience for students who are learning remotely for all or part of the year. For students learning on campus, we are investing heavily in supplies, equipment, and staff to reduce the risk of on- campus transmission of the COVID-19 virus. And, as always, all students will continue to benefit from a significant subsidy provided by the Amherst endowment. This allows Amherst to provide every Amherst student, regardless of their financial need, a deep discount to the cost of their education. Despite the challenges presented by investment markets and recent declines in the value of the endowment, we will spend nearly $110 million—approximately $60,000 per student—from the endowment during the next academic year, the highest in the College’s history.
[Updated 8/13/20] If I am fully remote for the fall or spring semester, how will that affect my financial aid package?
If you are fully remote, you will not be charged room and board. You can also expect your billed costs to be lower, but for your family contribution to be the same but allocated differently (to living and personal expenses) based on what is on the bill. Students studying remotely who qualify for financial aid will receive an allowance of $4,500 (or your country’s equivalent) per semester for living expenses. The financial aid office will be revising the aid package to reflect students who are remote.
How do I view my 2020-21 financial aid details and when will I know about a revision?
We share your desire and need for complete information to make decisions and financial plans, and we appreciate your patience as we work together to supply complete and accurate details. Renewal applications for the 2020-21 academic year were published in the Financial Aid Portal (FAP) beginning on June 11 for students who completed their application. Students who have not received details of their financial aid should review and submit missing documents promptly. Application requirements can be viewed through the Financial Aid Portal and the Documents and Messages link. Revisions will begin after students have confirmed their fall and spring plans. Emails will be sent to students at their Amherst email address once the details are available online.
How will health insurance work while enrolled remotely?
All enrolled students will be billed for student health insurance. Financial aid recipients who cannot waive the insurance with existing family coverage, may request an Amherst College Health Scholarship. Highest need students will be eligible for medical copay reimbursements. Students with specific concerns about reimbursements for prescription copays should contact the Office of Financial Aid.
Will there be remote student jobs available for the fall?
It is unlikely that there will be opportunities for students to work remotely for Amherst, with only a few exceptions. To account for this, the term-time student employment expectation for all students will be replaced with grants, just as the summer savings expectation was.
Will I have access to the Keefe Health Center?
The health center staff will be available, although in different ways depending on whether you are studying on campus or remotely, so please call us with any questions or concerns. If you are on-campus, the services provided by the Health Center will continue, although some remotely. If you are learning remotely, we may still be able to meet your medical need with a telehealth remote visit if indicated. We also may be able to address your need through continuity of care – including continuing to prescribe some medications. If your medical need requires an in-person visit or in-person continuity, we will help you find an urgent care or primary care provider in your community. The health services website is updated with urgent care information.
How would I access resources for myself or another student if I am concerned about our wellbeing?
As always, if you are concerned about yourself or another student, you can reach out to any number of resources including your class dean, your advisors, and other trusted staff and faculty. In addition, whether they are on or off campus, you can submit a CARE report. The report activates a team of Office of Student Affairs staff and will result in compassionate outreach and an offer of support. Whether we are remote or in-person, we remain committed to our students’ wellbeing and to providing support.
Will there be opportunities to practice our faith and faith-related events with other Amherst students?
Religious and Spiritual Life will continue and expand remote offerings begun in Spring 2020. Each religious advisor will be remotely offering weekly groups, 1:1 spiritual counseling, and opportunities to celebrate religious holidays. We will also assess what we are able to provide in person on campus, particularly in response to what on campus students are desiring, while focusing mostly on remote options that reduce risk and include both on and off campus students. We will share more information as further plans are finalized. Please reach out to RSL Director Harrison Blum with questions at email@example.com.
I receive support from my involvement with the Resource Centers. Will there be in-person and/or remote opportunities provided by the RCT?
Yes. The Resource Centers will continue to offer and expand upon the support services, advising, mentorship, physical resources, and dynamic programming we offer. Since the spring semester and into the summer, we have been able to transition many of our in-person services and programs to various on-line platforms. Students can expect the Resource Centers to continue offering weekly office hours, community building and engagement opportunities, identity support spaces, emotional, physical, and gender affirming resources, and one on one support as you navigate the changing landscape of our current world. We are hopeful that we will be able to offer in-person support and engagement in each of the Centers in a limited and safe manner--we will share more details as the plan is finalized.
How will I connect with my peers and build relationships?
Connecting with peers and building relationships is a vital part of college life and we will continue to develop experiences that bridge the student community regardless of where in the world you reside. In the coming weeks, we will be seeking students who are interested in working with us to create opportunities specifically for our remote students to connect with one another and to the campus community. Similarly to a regular semester, we will look forward to ideas from students about what activities are of interest. Our goal is to work with you to build a vibrant community.
Will there be opportunities for physical exercise on campus?
Student Activities and Athletics are working together to identify ways to support a range of different physical activities on campus in a safe way.
If I am a domestic student, will the Amherst Student health insurance cover me out-of-state?
Yes. You will be able to use your student health insurance out-of-state. You will just need to make sure that the provider or service is covered by Blue Cross Blue Shield, the College’s health care provider.
If I am an international student, will the Amherst student health insurance cover me in my home country?
It depends on the country and the service you require. You should contact Gallagher Student Insurance.
Will I have access to the Keefe Health Center and the Counseling Center for my physical and mental health needs?
Students who live on campus will have access to student health and wellness services, with many such services provided remotely.
The health center staff can still be of assistance—so please call us with any concerns. We may still be able to meet your medical need with a telehealth remote visit if indicated. We also may be able to address your need through continuity of care—including continuing to prescribe some medications. If your medical need requires an in person visit or in person continuity—we will assist you to find an urgent care or primary care provider in the community. The health services website is updated with urgent care information.
The Counseling Center will be available to work with students living on-campus or in the state of Massachusetts, and most services will continue to be provided remotely. We will be offering individual counseling, psychiatric medication management, single session appointments, urgent care, case management, and referral assistance.
For students who are living outside of Massachusetts, we are exploring the use of a provider that offers increased telehealth services.
The Counseling Center staff are available to help our students living outside of Massachusetts access Morneau Shepell and other off-campus resources, and are also available to help coordinate on-campus resource to assist with their mental health (e.g. Accessibility Services, Class Deans, the Dean of Students, the Office of Students Affairs Case Management, etc.).
Will there be athletic competition at Amherst in 2020-21?
There will be no athletic competition during the fall semester (August 24-December 11). No decision has been made on competition in the spring semester. We are communicating closely with our New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) peers, public health officials and the NCAA, and will make more information known as soon as we are able.
Does that mean fall and winter sports will not compete at all?
We don’t know yet. Fall and winter sports will not be competing until after the fall semester; we are actively participating in discussions to develop possible opportunities for fall and winter athletes to stay engaged with their teams in the spring with limited practice and playing opportunities. With the information we have now, it is unlikely that fall sports activity in the spring would resemble a standard season consisting of a full schedule of regular season contests and postseason play, and it would be dependent on final approval from the NCAA. We understand this is frustrating to hear. While we recognize the importance of varsity athletics, we must balance that with health and safety concerns.
Can I still participate in practices?
Yes. For students returning to campus who are members of our fall, winter and spring varsity programs, practicing will be allowed in accordance with school, state and NCAA safety and compliance protocols and with physical distancing. The NESCAC presidents have approved adjustments to NESCAC guidelines for out-of-season activity (a non-traditional season) to allow for students to work directly with coaches in accordance with NCAA rules, and we are continuing to work towards a plan that allows our student-athletes to practice and engage in strength and conditioning activities in a manner that is consistent with applicable safety precautions.
What will I need to do before I am able to practice?
Like all students, those participating in varsity team practices will have to be tested for COVID-19 on their return to campus and isolate in their room until the test results are back. Once a student has received a negative test and met quarantine requirements, they will be cleared to participate in athletic activity. We will provide more guidance on the protocols teams will need to adhere to in the near future.
Have any other changes been made to standard NESCAC rules?
Yes. To give schools increased flexibility, the NESCAC has also approved five additional waiver requests. These waivers allow for out-of-season facilities scheduling, the participation in non-traditional seasons in accordance with NCAA rules and for an institution to change the designation of the playing season (which ultimately will necessitate an NCAA waiver as well). The NESCAC will also permit winter teams to begin practice on October 15 as opposed to November 1.
What is a non-traditional season?
Under guidelines already approved by the NESCAC, a non-traditional season can include up to 16 practice dates over a five-week period. Only applicable to fall and spring sports, this setup is not considered a season of competition and is meant to give NESCAC institutions the opportunity to practice out of season like many of our Division III counterparts.
What impact does this have on my athletic eligibility?
Fall and winter sport student-athletes would not use a season of eligibility under NCAA rules if their team only practices. Games during the spring semester may count as a season of eligibility. Ultimately all eligibility decisions are made by the NCAA. We strongly recommend discussing any questions or concerns you may have regarding eligibility with your coaching staff. The Division III COVID-19 Question and Answer Guide provides answers to frequently asked eligibility questions, as well as ongoing updates on actions taken by the NCAA.
Will athletic facilities be open for use?
Yes. Athletics facilities will be open to students, faculty and staff, assuming that appropriate usage protocols are in place. We are still in the process of finalizing how to best monitor usage and establish the protocols in accordance with guidance from public health authorities as well as restrictions from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The College is also looking into the possibility of using tents to provide additional open-air locations for wellness classes, team conditioning and general meetings.
Will any additional sanitation practices or requirements be implemented by athletics?
We are in the process of developing protocols for the operation of athletics in conjunction with guidelines from the NCAA and public health officials. Topics of consideration include the disinfection and sanitization of locker rooms, shared spaces and sporting equipment, a system for contact tracing and sanitation protocols for athletic training and water bottle use.
Where does the NCAA stand on athletic competition in 2020-21?
As of now, the NCAA has not moved the dates of the fall, winter and spring championships. The NCAA has, however, announced that the minimum number of competitions required for all sports sponsorship and championship qualification have been cut by 33% for the 2020–21 academic year. For the most up-to-date information on Division III compliance, visit the NCAA’s compliance homepage.
Where does the NESCAC stand on athletic competition in 2020-21?
The NESCAC has not yet decided on conference play and conference championships for this year. The NESCAC’s latest update on 2020-21 planning.
Given this new information, will I have another opportunity to defer for a semester or year?
On July 6th, you will receive information about how to inform the college of your intent for the fall semester, including the form to request a voluntary leave.
I’m a prospective student-athlete. How will this affect my recruitment?
Please contact the head coach of the sport you are interested in for more information.
Will club sports be able to practice and compete in the spring?
Club sports are also an important part of the Amherst experience for many students, and we are in the process of working towards a final decision on this. We anticipate that club sports will be allowed to hold practices consisting of mostly individual and small group work as long as they adhere to College and athletic department protocols and safety precautions, including physical distancing. There will be no spring competition on or off campus, and practices will need to be scheduled through Billy McBride, Director of Club Sports.
If I have additional questions, whom should I contact?
While we still don’t have all the answers, if you have additional questions regarding athletics and the upcoming year, please reach out to your coaching staff or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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