March 17, 2020

Dear Faculty, Students, and Staff,

As you can imagine, numerous questions surrounding academic matters have arisen in recent days, as the college takes steps to address the COVID-19 situation. Many of the issues that have come to the fore have required Amherst to make decisions about extending academic deadlines and thinking further about ways to be flexible. Whenever possible, the college has erred in that direction. I am including in this note some of the information that everyone needs to know as we plan for the remainder of the semester.  This and other important information about academic matters for students can be found within the college’s COVID-19 FAQ page, under Academics, and for faculty and staff at Academic Matters FAQ.  Please check these sites now, and continue to do so going forward.  As new developments occur with the virus, we will update these pages, and we will continue to respond, as needed.  The college’s COVID-19 website remains an excellent source of information as well.

Start of Classes

On or before March 23, all professors will be in touch with their students about next steps for their classes. Some faculty may need a few extra days to prepare to teach remotely, while others will wish to start immediately.  All classes should have their first remote meeting, in some form, between Monday, March 23, and Thursday, March 26.  Regular classes will continue until May 1.

New Dates for Advising Week and Pre-registration 

  • We will now have two weeks of “Advising week,” which will take place between April 6 and April 17.
  • The first round of pre-registration for fall 2020 will take place April 20–April 24.
  • Roster management week will take place April 27–May 1.
  • The second round of pre-registration for fall 2020 will take place May 4–8.

Class Scheduling after Spring Break—Students in Different Time Zones 

Faculty will determine whether they are able to hold synchronous classes.  If they can, classes should be held at their regularly scheduled time, since any time changes will have a cascading effect on students’ schedules.  If faculty need to teach asynchronously, they have been asked to use those strategies that will best reach their students.  These may include recorded sessions, additional discussion sections for students in a different time zone, writing assignments in lieu of class time, or collaborative work among students that takes place over an extended period of time. 

Schedule for the End of the Semester

During the week of May 4–8, on Monday and Tuesday (May 4–5), Thursday and Friday classes will be held to make up for classes that were cancelled in March.

Reading period will be May 6–8. 

The schedule for exam week remains unchanged.  The exam period will run from Monday, May 11, through Friday, May 15. 

I hope that this information is helpful to you.  Please reach out to me at any time with any questions that you may have.

All the best,

Catherine Epstein
Provost and Dean of the Faculty