Mount Holyoke College exterior generic 041219

Western Mass News photo

SOUTH HADLEY, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -- Another western Mass. college has revealed its back-to-school plans, and it's unlike any other we've seen so far.

Mount Holyoke College said it will bring all of its students back to campus, just not at the same time.

"We would have preferred to bring everybody back," said Mount Holyoke College's President Sonya Stephens.

But like other institutions, Mount Holyoke College, which has an enrollment of more than 2,000 students, will look different this fall.

Stephens told Western Mass News that no matter the plan, they were not going to be able to accommodate all of their students.

"We wanted everybody to have a chance to be on campus at some point, as long as everything goes according to public health specialists," she said. "We can't predict the future at the moment."

To bring everyone to campus, the academic year will be split.

Mount Holyoke will have first-year students and sophomores report to campus this fall, with online classes for juniors and seniors.

In the spring semester, it will switch with juniors and seniors on campus, and the others learning remotely. Along with the reduction of people, Stephens said the students will face other challenges when they return to campus in South Hadley.

"As we think about a student's life on campus, they're going to have to be part of an official compact where all agree to respect certain restrictions," Stephens explained.

Those restrictions will include wearing masks and being tested for COVID-19, although the school is still figuring out their testing strategy.

Stephens told Western Mass News the one thing that won't change is the quality of the education.

"The academics will be the same wherever you are. There will be a real commitment to what we're calling flexible immersive teaching. Classes remotely, or they can join their classes in person," Stephens explained.

To help, Mount Holyoke College is reducing its tuition rates to last year's levels and plans to increase financial aid given to students. Stephens told us they have received a lot of questions about their plan, and there has been some disappointment.

"We understand that. We understand that disappointment. We understand that since March, when people left, they're wanting the opportunities lost," Stephens noted.

Students will return to campus beginning August 18, and classes resume on August 24.

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

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