With new guidelines to make the campus experience as safe as possible for the entire community, MCLA successfully welcomed students back for the fall 2020 semester.
In the interest of health and safety, all students are expected to read, agree to, and sign the Trailblazer Agreement prior to arriving on campus.
All MCLA community members have admirably and resourcefully adjusted the way they learn, teach, and work, and have recognized the shared responsibility we have to keep one another safe. Students, employees, and visitors to campus are required to wear face coverings, respect social distancing guidelines, adhere to CDC recommendations around hygiene, and stay home if they are not feeling well.
On this page, you will find answers to frequently asked questions, an archive of campus messages related to COVID-19, and links to helpful information from the Commonwealth.
MCLA has set up a hotline phone number for questions related to COVID-19 and our campus return plan at 413-662-5550. The hotline is open from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday-Friday. You can also leave a message outside of these hours.
President Birge’s message regarding MCLA’s return to campus plan
Information about MCLA's Resiliency Fund
|Testing Period||Total Test||Total Cases||% Positive Test|
|Last 7 Days||85||0||0.00%|
Data as of 11/30/20
The above dashboard reflects all results for MCLA’s testing program in partnership with the Broad Institute. Please note that individuals that test positive are tested an additional two times to rule out inaccurate results and these follow-up tests are included in the aggregate numbers reported.
Classes for the spring semester will begin on Tuesday, January 26. Similar to fall, MCLA’s spring 2021 plan features blended learning course design, and staggered attendance in the classroom. Once again, this model combines our signature small liberal arts face-to-face practices with an accessible technological environment.
There will be no Spring Break this year but an additional day has been added to the President’s Day weekend, and the recess will begin on Friday, February 12.
In order to comply with the updated testing guidance for higher education from the state, MCLA will expand our spring testing program which will be implemented with guidance from our local public health partners. Similar to the fall, we will test all residential students upon move-in and then once-a week for the next two weeks. After that, we will move to surveillance testing, with fifty percent of resident students tested each week.
We are also expanding commuter student testing, with mandatory testing of all commuter students to begin the semester and then mandatory once-a-month testing. Faculty and staff will again have the option of asymptomatic testing once a month as part of our testing program and will also have the option of additional tests at cost for $25. The spring plan represents an increase of approximately 3,000 tests over the fall semester.
Isolation: Isolation is the separation of someone who is ill with a contagious disease from people who are not sick. The typical isolation period is for a minimum of 10 days to longer if symptoms persist.
Students who test positive will be contacted about their results by the Berkshire County DPH nurse who will notify them of the need to isolate. When possible, students who test positive for COVID-19 are encouraged to isolate at home where they will have a family support system to aid them as they recuperate, particularly if they are feeling sick. However, when this is not possible, students who test positive and are required to isolate, will be assigned to one of the available isolation rooms and assisted in moving there for at least 10 days from the date of the positive test result.
The Berkshire County DPH nurse will monitor health regularly via phone calls; MCLA Health Services personnel will check on students regularly via video tele-medicine appointments. Counseling Services will be available for tele-counseling appointments. Students in isolation will order meals from Dining Services that will be delivered at pre-scheduled times directly to the townhouse door. Coursework can be completed virtually during this time for students well enough to participate. The Center for Student Success and Engagement (CSSE) can make contact with faculty to assist students with any necessary accommodations while isolating.
Students living off campus who need to isolate will do so in their off-campus housing following CDC/MA DPH guidelines for isolation from other household members. Off-campus students will have contact with local public health officials and will be able to access all College resources and supports (Health Services, Counseling Services and academics) remotely.
Quarantine: Quarantine is the separation of someone who has been exposed to a contagious disease (such as COVID-19) from those who are not sick or exposed. The typical quarantine period lasts 14 days.
Students who have been exposed to COVID-19 must quarantine in order to restrict their contact with others and reduce the risk of the spread of infection. MCLA will work closely with local contact tracers to determine which individuals need to quarantine based on contact tracing efforts and will notify affected students and Health Services if students are placed under a quarantine order.
Students in on-campus housing will typically quarantine in their regular housing assignments as all students are living in single rooms. Students living off campus will quarantine in their off-campus housing. Individuals who share a bathroom are considered a “family unit” and must typically quarantine together. MCLA will remotely provide medical, academic, and counseling support for students in quarantine. Meal delivery will be provided for on-campus students in quarantine.
Students may receive additional specific instructions on how to isolate and quarantine.
Isolation/Quarantine of Confirmed Individual:
Any employee who tests positive for COVID-19 or exhibits COVID-19 symptoms must remain at home until completing 14 days of self-quarantine or release by a health care provider or public health official.
Employees and Other Individuals in Close Contact with Infected Individual:
The College will notify the state and local health department immediately upon being informed of any positive COVID-19 test result and work with public health officials to identify all individuals who have had close contact (under 6 feet) without a face covering, lasting a minimum of 15 minutes with the affected individual during the time the individual has symptoms and during the 48-hour period before the onset of symptoms or positive test result, whichever is earlier. Depending on the circumstances (physical proximity, length of time of contact, setting, whether tools or equipment were shared, etc.), additional individuals may be identified as having had close contact. Those individuals identified by public health officials and/or the College as having close contact greater than 15 minutes with an individual who tests positive for COVID-19 will not be able to return to work until the individual has been cleared by the Department of Public Health. Employees who are quarantined must self-monitor for symptoms and seek medical attention if symptoms develop.
You can help by minimizing the spread of the disease through taking steps to protect yourself and others. Learn more about these steps via the Centers for Disease Control.
Yes. The MCLA Advancement Office has launched the Resiliency Fund, an emergency relief fund to ensure that all currently enrolled students receive the instruction and support they need without worrying about the unexpected financial burden a crisis presents. We have already begun disbursing emergency money and equipment to at-risk students.
If you are a student in need of support from this fund, please fill out the form here.
MCLA's Help Desk is here for you. The IT staff and students who run the Help Desk are now using Teams, a live chat tool, as well as their usual ticketing system, to help students, faculty, and staff work remotely. Learn more about that here.
Check out MCLA IT Help Center's handy list of ISPs who have pledged to help.
As a reminder, MCLA’s Public Safety department remains open and staffed 24/7 to ensure the safety of the campus and our community as we move to remote instruction. Campus Police officers will continue to do regular rounds and respond to emergency situations. In an emergency, dial 413-662-5100 (911 from a campus phone); for non-emergency situations, call 413-662-5283 or 5284 (5283 or 5284 from a campus phone).
Based on feedback from the Class of 2020, MCLA will host a reunion weekend in May 2021 in which the Class will be able to participate in traditional MCLA ceremonies they were unable to enjoy this past spring.
It is our hope to conduct ceremonies including Baccalaureate, honors society recognitions, and Senior Week events. Reunion will take place Thursday, May 20 - Sunday, May 23, 2021, with an official Commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 22, 2021. On-campus housing will be provided. Read the full message about Commencement from President Birge here.
MCLA’s MountainOne Student Wellness Center is available for remote counseling during this time. Counseling Services continues to serve all students with tele-therapy appointments. Please contact the office at 413-662-5331 or email your counselor to schedule an appointment. More information can be found here.
Health Services will be open Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Students who would like to be evaluated are encouraged to call 413-662-5421 during hours of operation to be triaged and provided an appointment either through the tele-medicine platform Doxy.me or in person as appropriate. This includes any complaint that a student would seek medical attention for, as well as COVID related complaints. Students experiencing a medical emergency, or when Health Services is closed, should contact MCLA Campus Police at 413-662-5100 or 911. For complete information on services, please visit Health Services on the MCLA website.
You’ll notice some changes at Freel Library as we strive to provide outstanding support for teaching, learning, and research while prioritizing the safety of the MCLA community. Please visit our library.mcla.edu/spring2021 page for details on library policies, hours, seating, services, and collections. Thank you for your cooperation as we navigate these unusual circumstances together.
The MCLA Bookstore will be fully operational from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. This includes walk-ins. Should you have further questions, the MCLA Bookstore manager can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 413-662-5240.
The Writing Studio will be moving to online tutoring. Students should go to the Writing Studio’s website to make an appointment just as they normally would here. Rather than coming in to the office, students will upload a paper to the appointment slot and the Writing Associate will provide comments using the Microsoft Word commenting tool. For questions, please contact Amber Engelson.
The Math Help Drop-In Center is now open virtually as the Math Help Drop-In Channel on Microsoft Teams! To get online help with any math question from any course, please sign into Portal and follow this link: From 4 – 6 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, there will be student Tutors live on the Channel, ready to help you with math. You can even post questions to the Channel after-hours, and the Tutoring team will try to get back to you as they are able.
Yes. On May 1, 2020, Governor Baker issued an order effective Wednesday, May 6, 2020, requiring individuals to wear masks in public places. As a public campus, MCLA is required to comply with this order. See more details and guidance from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health here.
This spring all students with in-person classes are expected to test before moving in or their first class in a commuter. Fully remote students are not expected to test. Surveillance testing will continue all semester on campus. Residents will test twice during move-in week and then once a week for until February 19; thereafter they will test every other week and choosing their test day this in the COVID Canvas site. Commuters will test before their first class and then monthly thereafter, choosing their test day in the COVID Canvas site; commuters who wish to test off-campus and provide results should talk with Health Services. Pittsfield Campus students may either test on the main campus monthly, or if more convenient can test elsewhere and provide results to Health Services.
After an in-depth review of the information from the state and NCAA, consultation among the Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC) Presidents, athletic directors, and athletic trainers and after exhausting all possibilities, including a review of the risks involved, the eight MASCAC Presidents have made the difficult decision to cancel all winter sports competition. Similar to the fall sports, the state universities are planning to provide winter sport student athletes with on-campus, in-person practices, conditioning and training opportunities throughout their traditional season to support their physical and mental well-being. These practice and training opportunities will not use a year of NCAA Eligibility and will be done in compliance with the campus, state, federal and NCAA COVID guidance and protocols. We are hopeful that there will be spring sports competition but no decision has been made yet. All athletes will be required to test weekly in accordance with NCAA guidelines.
The Fitness Center is currently open, operating under the Massachusetts Phase 3 guidelines.
Students may request to take only the scheduled fully online courses. Special consideration will be given to those who are immunocompromised, a member of another high risk category, or presenting with a disability making on-campus study under planned conditions a challenge. While we stand ready to accommodate students who are at higher risk than others to ensure they can continue to learn, it is important to note that the number of online courses available will be limited. We will work to accommodate extenuating circumstances, but we cannot guarantee a completely remote schedule that will maintain a student’s timeline of scheduled graduation.
Students will continue to be housed one to a room, regardless of the residence area in which they live. Residential Programs & Services (RPS) is currently communicating with students regarding their spring assignments in seniority order. The cost for spring housing will be the same as it was in the fall, $3,598 for all students residing on campus.
Move-in will be scheduled by appointment on January 23, 24, or 25. Each student will have two hours to move into their residence area and may bring only one person with them to campus. Students will take a COVID-19 test at the Campus Center Amsler Gym testing site prior to picking up keys and moving in.
Residents will be expected to continue wearing a mask or face covering within their residence area, with the exception of their own bedroom. No guests will be allowed during the spring semester, although student may have one other resident who lives in their residence area visit them in their room provided both are wearing a mask or face covering.
All students, including those who have completed their on-campus residency requirement, will be required to have a meal plan in the coming year. These are the meal plans:
Dining plans are still being developed, but there will be two dining areas with limited seating to meet state guidelines. Students will be required to reserve a spot in either the Centennial Room or Venable Gym during meal times, and there will be several seating times per meal. Most items will be prepackaged and take out will also be available. The retail dining operations will likely provide a limited choice meal at lunch and dinner on the meal plan to help ensure adequate availability of meals.
As we return to campus, the bookstore's number one priority will be efficiently getting all students their books in the first week of classes. Students should visit the bookstore’s website, pay for their books, and choose to pick them up in the store.
Yes! Please see this page for information about Student Financial Services and COVID-19.
If you receive any institutional gift aid such as a merit scholarship, this will need to be factored into the calculation of your room and meal plan refund. Be assured that calculation and adjustments will be made in a way that ensures equity for our students in this process.
The Center for Student Success and Engagement (CSSE) remains committed to providing academic support to MCLA students. For students seeking tutorial support, please submit requests online through the MCLA portal as follows: Portal > Student Academics > Request a Tutorial
Student Affairs has created MCLA Community Connections, a page where you can chat with Student Affairs staff and connect to MCLA activities and traditions. This page will be regularly updated with new content and Student Affairs would love suggestions about what else to include!
Yes! The Office of Admission is hosting virtual tours and information sessions Monday
through Friday. Visit the tour page for more information and the registration link.
You can also view the following information sessions:
Abbreviated Information Session (6 minutes) - Learn about the Admission & Financial Aid process.
Full Information Session (24 minutes) - Learn about the Admission & Financial Aid process, academics, and life on and off-campus.
Due to the ongoing public health crisis, MCLA is waiving the SAT/ACT testing requirement for applicants for fall 2021 and fall 2022, and we will be piloting a test-blind (test-free) policy for fall 2021 applicants. We do not want students to worry about sitting for the tests when it is unsafe for them to do so. In addition, national and institutional data point to high school work being indicative of student success in college and a more equitable means of assessment. Additionally, as an institution we have a staunch commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion and the use of SAT/ACT scores in admission decisions is posing a significant barrier in carrying out that tenet of our mission.
Changes to your grades due to COVID-19 will not affect your application negatively. MCLA evaluates first year applicants based on high school academic performance, strength of curriculum, letters of recommendation, and a personal essay in accordance with guidelines established by the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education (DHE). E-mail your admission counselor if you have additional questions.
Faculty and staff who are working on campus will have access to free monthly testing on campus. Additionally, should they wish to do so, they will be able to take additional tests weekly on campus for a $25 fee. Testing consent forms from the fall are still valid. Those employees who want to test on campus but have not previously done so must complete the consent form and bring it with them to their first appointment: Employee COVID Testing Consent Form.
Please also know that there are now free Stop the Spread sites (the Commonwealth’s free COVID-19 testing program) in Berkshire County (North Adams, Pittsfield, Great Barrington). Appointments at any of the Stop the Spread sites can be accessed by calling the Berkshire Health Systems COVID-19 hotline: 855-262-5465.
Faculty and staff COVID-19 testing for the spring semester will be incorporated into the student testing times. The testing times for the first week of the semester are as follows and appointments WILL NOT be necessary:
Beginning the week of February 1, 2021 testing will take place Monday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on most weeks. Appointments WILL be necessary for regular testing during the semester and more information will follow. Testing will take place in the Amsler Center Gymnasium.
The Center for Academic Technology has set up a resource for academic continuity at www.mcla.edu/remoteready. There, you’ll find information about remote learning resources, library resources, and more. If you need a specific resource you don’t see listed there, please contact Gerol Petruzella.
MCLA Information Technology has assembled a quick list of tools to help you work remotely at http://techhelp.mcla.edu/index.php/Working_Remotely
If employees are directed to work from home by administration they must ensure that they have completed the Interim Telecommuting Guide.
If employees are expected to work on campus but need an exemption for qualifying circumstances they must ensure that they have completed the Request for Temporary Continuation of Telecommuting Spring 2021
Keep in mind that the COVID-19 situation continues to evolve and recommendations and regulations tend to change quickly in this environment, so decisions could change at any time. MCLA's Human Resources office has guidelines and forms for employees regarding any temporary continuation of telecommuting. You can find them here.
Communication to Faculty re: Early Student Move-Out (11/16/20)
MCLA CARES Act Reporting:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):