Fall 2020 Opening

Attending and Leaves of Absence

Attending in Fall 2020

Is there any possibility that students will not be returning this fall?

The Colleges have every intention of opening this fall. There is a remote chance that the State may impose new restrictions that prohibit us from doing so. Should that happen, we will let students, families, faculty and staff know as soon as possible.

If professors are given the choice to teach in person or remotely and a student’s classes are all online, can the student live at home with room and board fees waived?


I read that many colleges are limiting enrollment in an effort to keep students and faculty safe. Harvard is limiting the number of students on campus to 40% by allowing only freshman and seniors during alternating semesters.  Is this something HWS might consider?

No. One of the benefits of our small environment is that we can accommodate all students in all class years and still maintain social distancing protocols. We also feel strongly that in order to offer the kind of comprehensive liberal arts experience for which we are known, it is important for us to offer all of our students the opportunity to be in residence.  This includes physical access to library facilities and study centers, access to our extensive outdoor areas, co-curricular opportunities, student services such as the CTL and other centers, and dependable Wi-Fi service that many students said they missed while being away last spring.

If a student and their family determine that they would prefer to take a gap year this fall, would the student’s space be preserved so they can return in the Spring or Fall of 2021?

Yes, anyone can take a gap year or gap semester. Instructions on how to do so can be found in the Handbook of Community Standards: https://www.hws.edu/studentlife/pdf/community_standards.pdf

If a student takes a semester off, do they forfeit their scholarships, need or merit-based?

No, so long as they make the Colleges aware and take a leave of absence. Instructions can be found in the Handbook of Community Standards: https://www.hws.edu/studentlife/pdf/community_standards.pdf

How involved have faculty been in this opening plan and are they concerned about their own health and safety?

Faculty were involved as members on the initial logistics task force, continue to be involved through the Provost’s weekly consultations with the Committee on the Faculty and the Committee on Academic Affairs, as well as through additional faculty meetings that occurred after we usually stop having those meetings for the summer.

Our faculty have been allowed to choose their delivery mode for the fall, with approximately 55% opting for in-person, 25% hybrid and 20% remote learning.

What percentage of students do you expect to return to campus this fall?

We hope that all students will elect to return this fall but understand that may not be possible for some. We anticipate that between 75 to 90% of students will be in residence.

What happens if a student becomes ill with COVID-19 and cannot complete coursework? Will there be extensions or tuition refunds offered?

Depending on the timing of the illness, yes.  We will work with students to try to ensure they complete their coursework if this happens after the normal refund deadline has passed.

If a student returns to campus and decides once there that they would like to return home, could they do so? What about the opposite situation?

Yes, students can change their mind in both directions and we will work to accommodate their change of preference to the extent possible regarding how it may affect their coursework.

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