Amherst is closing on Thursday. Who knows when it will re-open . . .

Dear students, faculty, staff, and families,

The COVID-19 virus continues to spread and affect many parts of the U.S. and the rest of the world. Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has announced that we are past the point of being able to contain this disease. While there continue to be no reported cases of the virus on our campus, we need to focus on mitigating its possible effects.

We know that many people will travel widely during spring break, no matter how hard we try to discourage it. The risk of having hundreds of people return from their travels to the campus is too great. The best time to act in ways that slow the spread of the virus is now. Let me make our decisions clear and then provide additional information:

Amherst will move to remote learning after spring break, beginning Monday, March 23, so students can complete work off campus.

Classes are cancelled on Thursday and Friday of this week, March 12-13, so faculty and staff have time to work on alternate modes of delivering courses, and students have every opportunity to secure transportation.

All students are expected to have left campus by Monday, March 16. Only those students who have successfully petitioned and have remained in residence over spring break will be allowed to stay on campus to do their remote learning.

Campus will remain open and all faculty and staff should continue their regular work schedules.

0) Amherst is closing! Our work at EphBlog is done!

1) Wuhan Flu is the greatest crisis (90% certainty) of my lifetime. So, I will try to make fewer jokes. This is all going to be much less funny in April when sick old people are being turned away from Berkshire Medical Center and left to die at home.

2) If I were Maud, I would be sorely tempted to do the same. One argument against is that Williams is a much more isolated location and so, perhaps, less likely to be hit as quickly as Amherst/Northampton/Holyoke. But that is far from certain. And, moreover, Spring Break is the most obvious time to do this.

3) Although the message above is not overly clear, I believe that this is as extreme as it sounds. Amherst is sending students home, not just early or for a few weeks. It is sending them home for the rest of the semester. There will be no classes at Amherst until September, at the earliest.

4) Does this mean that Amherst will be forfeiting the rest of its athletic contests? Presumably so. It would be beyond weird if sports teams could petition to stay on campus while non-athletes were sent home. No Directors Cup for Amherst this year!

5) Will students receive refunds on, at least, room-and-board charges?

6) How tough will Amherst be with the “petition” process? It might allow hundreds of students to stay. It might allow only a score. I assume it will be very tough.

7) If things are bad enough, in Biddy Martin’s view, that Amherst should close now, what are the odds that things will be better enough to open in the fall? Many of the experts I read think that things might be worse next October than they are now.

What do you predict Williams will do? What do you think Williams should do?

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