March 17, 2020
I want you to know we are thinking of you in this extremely difficult moment. Every one of you will be busy finding ways to keep yourselves and your loved ones safe. I hope you have the support you need and that you remain well.
Over the past week, I have seen firsthand, in yet more ways, that we are far more than a campus. I have been moved and inspired by the many alumni, parents, and friends who have reached out to offer support, kind words, and offers to help students as they face the challenges of having their on-campus experience significantly disrupted.
Nearly 200 students have been given permission to remain on campus because their circumstances require it. Whether they are on campus or are returning home, we want students to focus on their health and safety and on their studies, not on financial concerns. Here are some of the steps the College is taking to make sure that travel changes, new arrangements, and technology needs are not cost-prohibitive to students and families as we make the move to remote learning:
- We will reimburse room and board on a pro-rata basis for the duration of time away from campus so that students and families have funds to cover the student who would otherwise be at Amherst.
- Students who have left campus who had on-campus jobs will continue to be paid, even if the work they were doing cannot be done remotely; we have plenty of remote work opportunities we will offer them.
- We are offering logistical support with travel arrangements and packing and storage of belongings to all students. For students on aid with significant need, we are providing financial stipends—not loans—so that students can return home and access the technology they need to continue their studies.
Many thanks to the alumni, parents, and friends who have helped defray these unexpected costs to the College through the COVID-19 Student Support Fund. We will continue to do all we can to ensure that students on and away from campus are taken care of. Please see our updated FAQ for more information.
Our faculty and staff are working with creativity and resilience to make sure we can provide the highest quality experience for all of our students. In order to help mitigate the effects of COVID-19 in our community and do our part to slow the spread of the virus—and because regional K-12 schools have closed, presenting significant childcare issues for many members of our community—we moved today to a model of remote work for faculty and staff for all except the essential staff members who will work on campus to maintain the best possible academic and living environment for those students who remain.
All offices are committed to working with individual students to meet their needs and stand ready to conduct appointments by phone or Zoom meeting. Amherst will continue to pay all faculty and staff through the semester, including part-time and casual employees. Neither regular nor casual employees will lose pay or leave time for any COVID-19-related absence this semester.
Everyone is feeling the stress and anxiety of this threat to public health and the disruptions and uncertainties that come with it, including the isolation that social distancing can involve. I am grateful for this extraordinarily caring and connected community, whose bonds cross years and continents. I would love to hear from you as you work your way through this difficult experience. Meanwhile, I send my warmest wishes for the wellbeing and safety of you and of your loved ones.
President Biddy Martin