Fall 2020 On-Campus Dining

July 10, 2020

Good morning students, 

There will be a couple of emails today attempting to provide more details about specific areas about which we have received a lot of questions. One of these areas is on-campus dining.  Below is some more information about how our dining will work for those on campus.  If you have additional questions about the dining process, please email dining@amherst.edu. 

Take care, 


Fall 2020 On-campus Community Expectations

July 9, 2020

Dear Students, 

As we think about how to approach joining each other on campus during this pandemic, whether it is this fall or in the spring, our goal is to create expectations that reduce risk in the hopes of having the healthiest community possible.

Below is a preview of expectations for students living on campus this academic year (expectations may be modified for the spring to reflect the realities of the pandemic and/or changing guidance). 

Fall 2020: Health and Wellbeing

July 8, 2020

Dear Students,

I want to begin by acknowledging the delay in the planned communication timeline. Information about health and wellbeing and about housing were intended to be sent yesterday. These messages were delayed due to key decisions that needed to be revisited considering changing information and guidance. This message contains information about health and wellbeing. Information about housing will be sent later this evening. Tomorrow, information about community life and engagement will be shared. I know that the delay has caused some additional stress and for that I sincerely apologize.

On-Campus Housing Process for Fall 2020

July 8, 2020

Dear Students,

Good evening and thanks again for your grace as we work to provide you the most accurate and detailed information possible about the fall.  

Tonight’s email focuses on the mechanisms by which we will assign those of you returning to campus to our residence halls.  We have made significant adjustments to our typical practices in order to balance the development of a home environment that can be as comfortable and safe as possible within the existing pandemic era parameters with a process that is as fair, equitable, and maximizes as much student choice as possible. 

Extension: Fall Intent Form

July 6, 2020

Dear Students,

This morning you all should have received an email with a personalized link to the Fall Intent Form. If you did not receive it, please check your spam/junk folder.

I am writing to inform you that, after further conversation, we have decided to extend the deadline to submit the Fall Intent Form. The form is now due by Monday, July 13th at 5 p.m. EDT. We know that this is still a rapid turnaround time.

Fall Intent Form

July 6, 2020

[All students received an email with an individualized link. The original deadline of Friday, July 10 at 5:00 p.m. EDT was extended to Monday, July 13th at 5 p.m. EDT.]

What is the Fall Intent Form? 

The Fall Intent Form is a single form that students can use to declare their plans for the fall, including returning to campus (if eligible), learning remotely, taking a leave of absence or gap year, or requesting to return due to personal circumstances or thesis work.  The form will take you through a series of prompts and options based on the information you provide.  Every student is expected to complete this form. 

Changes to the Academic Program for 2020–2021

June 17, 2020

Dear Students,

Greetings from Amherst!  We are busily planning for the start of classes on August 24.  While the next academic year will continue to be a time of uncertainty because of the pandemic—whether teaching and learning takes place on campus or off—I write now to inform you of changes in the academic program for 2020-2021 that the faculty approved recently.  We believe that these changes will best meet the goals of an Amherst education during this highly unusual time.  As importantly, I think you will find that these initiatives will provide new and exciting educational opportunities, as well as significant academic support and flexibility.  Here is what you need to know:

Update on Planning for the Fall

June 2, 2020

Dear Students, Faculty, Staff, and Families,

Since we last wrote to you, the semester has come to a close and, on Sunday, we honored the class of 2020 in a virtual celebration that is available to view. We have reached this point because of the perseverance, sacrifice, and creativity of the Amherst community—all of you. We are grateful for your extraordinary achievement.

We continue actively planning for the fall, and we are writing now to give you another update on our effort to bring as many students as possible back to a safe learning and living environment on campus. As you know, there are many hurdles involved, some in our control and some not. You will probably have read announcements from other colleges and universities, some announcing decisions to bring students back to campus for the fall semester, but all with a warning that those decisions could change. We do not believe that kind of announcement will be very helpful to you. We are focusing intensive efforts on making it possible to bring our students back to this beautiful campus while also preparing to enhance significantly what we offer remotely, knowing that some members of the community will teach and learn at a distance.

Commencement Plans

May 7, 2020

Dear Class of 2020,

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Updates on Fall Planning and Financial Assistance for Students

May 1, 2020

Dear Students and Families,

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You understandably have questions about the fall semester and also about the support for students facing financial hardship through the CARES Act. Let me begin with what we know and are doing to prepare for fall.

Make-up Days, End-of-Semester Work, Exams

April 30, 2020

Dear Faculty, Staff, and Students,

With the end of classes nearing, and spring on its way, we write to announce the following make-up days to cover classes that were canceled during the spring semester, due to the preparation for the transition to remote learning:

  • On Monday, May 4, Thursday classes may be held at the regularly scheduled time.  These meetings will be held to make up for classes that were canceled on Thursday, March 12.
  • On Tuesday, May 5, Friday classes may be held at the regularly scheduled time.  These meetings will be held to make up for classes that were canceled on Friday, March 13.

First Confirmed Case of COVID-19 in Our Community

April 23, 2020

Dear Amherst Students, Staff, Faculty, and Families,

I’m writing to let you know that we have the first confirmed on-campus case of COVID-19. A custodial staff member received the news of the positive test results yesterday and is in isolation at home and doing well. I know you will join me in wishing this individual a complete and speedy recovery. The staff member’s last day on campus was April 18; at that time, they displayed no symptoms, wore a face mask while working, and did not engage with any students. 

April 17, 2020: Staying in Touch

Dear Students, Staff, Faculty, Alumni, and Families,

Thank you for your warm responses to last week’s note. The gratitude you expressed to and for our staff and our frontline workers was remarkable. One alumna has offered to host any Amherst College staff members who find themselves in Poland once we are able to travel again. Another has volunteered to help with the “cheering up” efforts on campus by joining Val staff in writing encouraging notes to students. 

Grading Policy This Semester

April 15, 2020

Dear Students and Faculty,

I hope this email finds you well.

We have heard from some faculty and students who feel strongly that the college should consider a shift to a mandatory pass/fail system for this semester.  The Committee of Six recognizes the compelling arguments both for and against taking this step, many of which center around justice and equity.  In response to ongoing conversation within the community about this topic, the committee wants to provide greater clarity about whether another change in our grading policy should be considered at this time.  I write now to inform you that the members have recommended that no further changes to the grading policy be made this semester and to explain the reasons for this decision.

Anti-Asian Racism

April 7, 2020

Dear Members of the Amherst Community,

In a letter I sent to you last week I wrote about incidents of COVID-19-related anti-Asian racism that are increasing across the country as the pandemic spreads. These incidents of harassment, verbal attacks, and physical assaults are doing tremendous harm to individuals and to Asian and Asian-American communities. Estimates from days ago suggested that at least a hundred or more incidents are reported each day, including physical violence of the kind that occurred recently in Texas, where three people were stabbed, including two children. These hateful acts represent the worst forms of ignorance. I am writing again today to express what I imagine is our collective horror at this surge in racism and to ask that you join me in openly condemning it, and in doing everything you can to help end it. I also want to encourage reporting and provide information about resources.