CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19) INFORMATION

information about MCLA’s response to COVID-19

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.

Jump to information:

Quick Links

COVID Dashboard

Latest Updates

FAQ: General

FAQ: For Students

FAQ: For Prospective Students

FAQ: For Faculty and Staff

Archived Communications

Informative Websites

 

Quick Links

President Birge’s message regarding MCLA’s return to campus plan

MCLA Return to Work Guide for all employees

Financial aid and billing information

Information about MCLA's Resiliency Fund

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MCLA COVID DASHBOARD

Testing Period Total Test  Total Cases % Positive Test
Last 7 Days 415 0 0.00%
Total Test 2934 3 0.14%

Data as of 10/22/20

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.

Comparative Statistics

 MCLA (7- Day Positive Test Average)  0.00%
 Massachusetts (7-Day Positive Test)*  1.40%
 Pittsfield (Percent Positivity - Last 14 Days) *  0.28%
 North Adams (Percent Positivity - Last 14 Days) *  0.14%

*Source: https://www.mass.gov/info-details/covid-19-response-reporting

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Latest Updates

End of semester move-out and process for limited exceptions (10/21/20)

COVID-19 Dashboard and Testing Update (9/3/20)

Student Message Regarding Off-Campus Gatherings (9/3/20)

Broad Employee COVID Consent Form (9/3/20)

Employee Return to Campus Health and Safety Update (8/27/20)

Return to Campus Student Guide (8/26/20)

Early Add/Drop Period for Returning and Transfer Students (8/25/20)

Fogger Safety Data Sheet (8/24/20)

Room Occupancy Diagrams (8/24/20)

Important: Trailblazer Agreement (8/19)

Important Information for Resident Students about Move-in (8/17)

COVID Testing Broad COVID-19 Testing Consent Form (8/17)

Fall 2020 Student Update (8/6)

Employee Fall 2020 Return to Campus Update (8/6)

MCLA Return to Campus Final Report July 2020 (8/6)

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General

Measures for Students Confirmed or Suspected to have COVID-19

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.

Measures for Suspected or Confirmed Employee Cases of COVID-19

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.

The Center for Academic Technology has set up a resource for academic continuity at www.mcla.edu/remoteready. If you need a specific resource you don’t see listed there, please contact Ian Bergeron at ian.bergeron@mcla.edu.

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 this fall as we strive to provide outstanding support for teaching, learning, and research while prioritizing the safety of the MCLA community. Please visit our Library Services Fall 2020 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 operate from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. During these hours of operation, the MCLA Bookstore will fill online order as well as receive and respond to electronic and telephone communications. The MCLA Bookstore manager can be reached by email at william.taylor@mcla.edu or by calling 413-662-5240. The Bookstore staff will only manage deliveries and tasks related to shipping and inventory management. The MCLA Bookstore will not be open to walk-in customers during this time period.


The Writing Studio will be moving to online tutoring starting Monday, March 30. 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. 

This link will give you locations of hand sanitizer on campus.

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.

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For Students

Testing is by appointment only and takes only minutes to complete. To make an appointment, sign up here. You must bring a picture ID and a signed consent form, Student Consent Form. Please arrive at Health Services on time for your scheduled appointment as the schedule is set up to ensure social distancing. Again, please do NOT make or keep an appointment if you are symptomatic or feeling unwell. Call Health Services instead at 413-662-5421.

In July, the Massachusetts State College Athletics Conference (MASCAC) announced that fall teams will not participate in intercollegiate athletic competition during the fall 2020 season. Preseason for fall sports will also not be conducted. Practice and other training opportunities for student-athletes will be permitted provided they adhere to MCLA’s protocols for public health and safety.

Read President Birge’s July 16 message regarding fall athletics here.

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. To request an academic delivery exception, please complete the Student Exception Form.

Students will 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 fall assignments in seniority order. The cost for fall housing will be $3,598 for all students residing on campus.

Move-in will be scheduled by appointment. Each student will have two hours to move into their residence area and may bring only one person with them to campus. We strongly encourage you to pack lightly for the fall semester. Students will move out of their residence area on Tuesday, November 24.

Residents will be expected to wear a mask or face covering within their residence area, with the exception of their own bedroom. Three masks will be provided to you upon move-in as part of your welcome back package. No guests will be allowed during the fall semester.

To request an exception to your residency requirement this fall, please complete the Student Exception Form. Priority deadline for release is July 31.

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:

  • The first, required for all those with a residency requirement, is the Every Meal plan, which provides a meal during all 19 scheduled meals per week, plus $100 in declining balance and $25 in Blazer bucks. This plan will cost $2,140 for the fall.
  • The second plan, required for all those who have fulfilled their residency requirement but opt to live in campus residence this fall, includes 65 meals, $100 in declining balance and $25 in Blazer bucks. This plan will cost $700 for the fall. If you have fulfilled your residency requirement, you may opt up to the Every Meal plan.

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.

Students who require a medical meal plan accommodation may complete the Student Exception Form. Priority deadline for release is July 31.

As we return to campus for the fall, 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.

Students should check in with their direct supervisors via email to discuss any potential for remote work. To clarify information regarding remote work, please contact Human Resources staff members Natalia Kuhner at Natalia.Kuhner@mcla.edu or Linda Lazzari at L.Lazzari@mcla.edu.

The Center for Student Success and Engagement (CSSE) remains committed to providing academic support to MCLA students. In an effort to support students in successfully transitioning to remote learning, the deadline for requesting tutorial support is extended to April 10, 2020. 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!

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For Prospective Students

MCLA is hosting a limited number of daily tours and information sessions. View our tour page for more details.

Please note, in order to maintain the health and safety of our campus community, please note visit restrictions listed on the registration page.

You can also explore our virtual tour!

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.

You can connect with a current Trailblazer through the Office of Admission. Learn more here.

Also be on the lookout for virtual events where you will have the opportunity to speak with current students.

Due to the current public health crisis throughout the country and the world, MCLA is waiving the SAT/ACT testing requirement for first-year applicants for fall 2021 and fall 2022. While we will continue to accept and review any exam scores submitted, it will not be required for the next two years and students who do not submit scores will not be penalized. Additionally, MCLA will continue to award merit based scholarships to new students solely based on recalculated GPAs.

This policy will go into effect for all applicants, including U.S. citizens and international students, first-year applicants and transfers, and students attending public and private schools and homeschooled applicants. This policy will be reevaluated for fall 2023 first-year applicants.

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.

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Faculty and Staff

Testing is by appointment only and takes only minutes to complete. All employees are eligible for one test per month, through November. To make an appointment, sign up here. You must bring a picture ID and a signed consent form, Employee Consent Form. Please arrive at Health Services on time as the schedule is tight and limited to ensure social distancing. Again, please do NOT make or keep an appointment if you are symptomatic or feeling unwell.

MCLA's Human Resources Department sent a message to all employees on July 2 detailing trainings and offering a guidebook for returning to work. See the message here.

All faculty and staff are expected to complete training about social distancing and hygiene protocols. Click here to complete the training.

Access the MCLA Return to Work Guide here.

 

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

MCLA, along with the other state universities, is extending remote work to June 30, 2020. This decision was made in unison by the Council of Presidents with the intent of continuing to keep people healthy and safe, and to support families who are overseeing their children’s remote learning efforts and attending to their care needs. This date could be extended in the future based upon prevailing health and safety considerations. As you know, Governor Baker recently extended remote learning for K-12 students through the end of the school year, and non-emergency childcare programs until June 29, 2020.

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.

As a reminder, if you are a staff member working from home but have not yet completed an Interim Telecommuting Guide, then please do so now.

Read Human Resources' most recent communication around remote work here.

As you know, while campus has remained open, on-campus staffing has been significantly reduced over the past few months. The Commonwealth is recommending a phased approach to return employees. We are following these recommendations and ensuring we are aligned with the framework from the higher education sector.

MCLA's Human Resources office has guidelines and forms for employees regarding any temporary continuation of telecommuting. You can find them here.

Click here to read the June 22, 2020, message from HR regarding temporary telecommuting continuation.

Please visit the following link at Mass.gov for a detailed explanation about how to enter your time during the COVID-19 outbreak in Employee Self-Service.

If you have additional questions, please contact Executive Director of HR Barb Chaput at 413.662.5599 or Barbara.Chaput@mcla.edu

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Archive Communications

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Informative Websites

MCLA CARES Act Reporting:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): 

https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019

https://www.berkshirehealthsystems.org/coronavirus

U.S. Department of Education Information and Resources for Schools and School Personnel

Massachusetts Department of Higher Education Information and Resources

Massachusetts Department of Public Health Information on the Outbreak of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)

Office of Student Health Services

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