SOUTH HADLEY, MA (WGGB/WSHM) - The coronavirus has forced many colleges in western Mass to close their doors on campus and instead hold remote classes.

Mount Holyoke College is the latest to join schools that are sending students home for the rest of the semester.

We sat down with the president of Mount Holyoke College who says this decision was made to not only protect their students, but all of Massachusetts and their seniors in particular are having a hard time saying goodbye.

"There were tears today. Hugs, a lot of emotion," Sonya Stevens, president of Mount Holyoke College, tells us.

Students at Mount Holyoke College, like many other college students in the midst of the coroanvirus, are watching their world turned upside down.

"Many students said to me today they thought it was the right decision. It’s a hard decision for them to accept, but they think it’s the right decision," stated President Stevens.

But unlike some colleges in western Mass deciding to switch to remote classes for a few weeks and evaluate the situation, Mount Holyoke is transitioning to remote classes and students must move out by March 20 at the latest.

"This community impacts the wider community and a big part of our decision was about keeping Massachusetts safe and particularly the valley," continued President Stevens.

Mount Holyoke will be teaching students through online classes, teleconferencing, and using online chat rooms.

Since they won’t be staying on campus, many parents are wondering about room and board refunds, something President Sonya Stephens says is in the works right now.

"It's complicated, because of the financial aid policies involved in refunds so we have a team working on that now and want to get answers to students and their families as soon as possible," says President Stevens.

And as the seniors are preparing to leave Mount Holyoke for good, prospective students can still plan on visiting the campus as of now.

"We already have a significant number of our class committed through early decision and the campus visits are in small groups are continuing through the time being as long as visitors haven’t been in a CDC Level 2 or 3 area," said President Stevens.

But Western Mass News is asking the hard questions, something on all of the seniors' and parents' minds, will there be a graduation ceremony?

"We just don’t know yet. Our first concern was to mitigate the spread of the virus and get students home whenever they can go home, and to think a little about how we are prepared for the next stage of this. I said to the students today, 'We will do our very best to have some sort of celebratory events whenever we can'," added President Stevens.

The move out period for students begins on Saturday and ends on March 20.

Copyright 2020 Western Mass News (Meredith Corporation).  All rights reserved.

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