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A look at fall reopening plans of schools surrounding Springfield

Jack Margaros

Springfield College’s plan for reopening campus for the fall 2020 semester was announced in late July, with area schools following shortly after with their own plans.

The majority of colleges in Western Massachusetts have cancelled fall sports, while others have announced that they will not welcome any students back to campus and move forward remotely. 

The overwhelming theme with local fall reopening plans is the requirement of face masks/coverings. Institutions have made this a major point of emphasis across campus communities, as science proves that masks will reduce the spread of the coronavirus. 

As the fall semester kicks off with students back at campus on Alden Street, The Springfield Student looked into four surrounding schools and how their plans compare to what is happening here.

Western New England University – Springfield, MA

Western New England students will begin classes on campus on Aug. 31 and end their semester on Dec. 4. There will be classes on scheduled breaks such as Labor Day and Fall Break. After Thanksgiving, classes will transition to an online format through the end of the semester.

Students are required to wear a mask or face covering while on campus. Cloth masks will be provided to all students, faculty and staff; face shields are available if needed.

While on campus, a “small number” of classes will be offered in an online or hybrid format, while the “vast majority” of classes will be in-person, according to a letter written by President Anthony Caprio to the campus community. 

Outdoor seating and more to-go meals will be offered at the dining hall. The University’s dining partner, Aramark, is working to develop an app where students can place food orders to decrease wait times. 

As of now, WNE is planning to move forward with fall sports as planned, but with significant protocols in place. The University has also created the Golden Bear COVID-19 Helpdesk to help answer questions throughout the semester.

American International College – Springfield, MA 

American International College students will begin classes on Aug. 24 and end the semester on Dec. 11. The “majority” of classes will be offered remotely, while certain health science courses that require it will be in-person. After Thanksgiving, all classes will be online. Students are required to wear a face mask while on campus.

The dining hall will be serving pre-packaged or to-go meals, and tables will be spaced out to promote physical distancing. 

Fall sports have been cancelled, and the College is exploring shifting its fall sports to the spring season. Teams are still able to practice and train while following the correct health and safety protocols. Visitors have been vastly limited to prevent the spread of COVID-19. 

Professional and AIC-related travel has been postponed until further notice and large in-person events have been postponed until further notice. 

Smith College – Northampton, MA

Smith College’s plan for return, titled “A Culture of Care,” details an entirely remote fall 2020 semester. President Kathleen McCartney wrote a letter on Aug. 5 to the campus community, stating that she will not be welcoming students back to campus for the fall semester. 

She cited factors such as infectious disease specialists warning of a “troubling new phase” of COVID-19, increased transmission rates, potential for rapid asymptomatic transmission and failed school reopenings. 

The fall athletic season has been cancelled. The College is still planning to offer an “outstanding remote academic experience” which includes hosting a multitude of virtual events. 

“I remain optimistic that, with improved treatment and prevention protocols, we will be able to return to life together, in person, in this remarkable community,” wrote McCartney. “In the meantime, we will focus on what Smith does best―teaching and learning, supporting and caring for one another, and continuing to do good work in and for the world.”

University of Massachusetts Amherst – Amherst, MA

On Aug. 6, UMass revised its fall reopening plan and announced that it’s only admitting students on campus who are “enrolled in essential face-to-face classes, including laboratory, studio and capstone courses, which have been designated in SPIRE,” wrote Chancellor Kumble R. Subbaswamy. 

The rest of the student body will conduct online classes from home. International students, regardless of their class format, will be accommodated. The University is also implementing a routine asymptomatic testing system to mitigate the spread of the virus. 

UMass announced the creation of a COVID-19 Dashboard that will track all tests administered and report positive results. 

Officially, the football team has cancelled its 2020 season. Most other fall sports on do not have a fall schedule, so it’s safe to assume that there will be no sports at UMass this fall. 

Photo: Smith College

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