Hampshire College plans to welcome students on campus in fall

  • Edward Wingenbach, president of Hampshire College. Photographed outside the R.W. Kern Center on Thursday, April 9, 2020. GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer
Tuesday, May 19, 2020

AMHERST — Hampshire College announced on Tuesday that it intends to have students back on campus for the fall semester “as long as the State of Massachusetts allows colleges to open.”

Several factors make social distancing “viable” at Hampshire, college president Ed Wingenbach wrote in an update posted to the college’s website, such as an anticipated fall enrollment of 550 to 600 students on the college’s 800-plus acre campus.

Additionally, students live in dorms with single rooms, and the college has “surplus housing for quarantine or isolation if necessary,” according to Wingenbach.

“Thankfully we have had no confirmed cases among students on campus this spring,” he added, “and we instituted protocols to support a small number of quarantined students as they awaited test results.”

Students who remained on campus this spring had access to COVID-19 testing on-campus, and the college now offers antibody testing as well. By summer, the school plans to offer same-day, rapid testing for active COVID-19 infection and antibodies, Wingenbach said, and staff members are trained in “contact tracing and notification of close contacts” of those who test positive for the virus. Hampshire has worked with the University of Massachusetts Amherst Health Services to offer telehealth medical services and counseling.

The college announced last month that it was offering available space in one of its residence halls to shelter members of the homeless community who need the space to isolate and quarantine.

However, the town of Amherst does not need this offer, Wingenbach said, as all homeless individuals and workers at Craig’s Doors shelter tested negative for COVID-19.

“Altogether, Hampshire’s circumstances are ideal to open safely in the fall and maximize community health,” Wingenbach wrote. “If we are unable to open, I cannot imagine any college will.”