November 4, 2020

Dear members of the Elms College community,

As we approach the last few weeks before the Thanksgiving break, I am writing with information that you may find useful for planning your ElmsSafe spring semester. 

Once again, let me reiterate that I continue to be inspired, though not surprised, by the way our community has come together to protect each other both inside and outside of the classroom since we resumed on campus living, learning, and working in August. All the measures included in our ElmsSafe agreement (wearing masks, distancing, practicing enhanced hygiene, testing, contact tracing, quarantining and isolating as needed) are allowing us to foster a vibrant and nurturing learning environment for our community. 

Our continued adherence to the ElmsSafe health and safety protocols will allow us also to resume on campus living, learning, and working activities  for the Spring 2021 semester. Please see below information about what will remain the same, what will be new and improved, and what is still evolving. 

Here is what will remain the same for the Spring 2021 semester:

  • COVID-19 testing is required for all students, faculty, and staff prior to being allowed on campus for the Spring semester. 
  • Resident students will receive designated days in January to return to -or move into- on-campus residences.
  • ElmsSafe protocols of mask wearing, physical distancing, frequent hand washing, and other health and safety measures will continue to be enforced.
  • Classes will continue to follow the ElmsFlex model of allowing students to attend classes in person at our Chicopee or offsite locations, synchronously online, or in a hybrid of both formats based on their particular circumstances. 
  • Daily Healthy Roster survey completion will be required for all students, faculty, staff and visitors prior to entering campus.
  • Visitor tours will continue to be guided by Admission staff and student ambassadors.

Here is what is new for the Spring 2021 semester:

  • Weekly surveillance testing will be expanded beyond resident students and athletes to also include some other groups.
  • The first day of classes for the traditional 15-week Spring 2021 semester has been moved to Tuesday, January 26, 2021. The start dates for non-traditional terms (8-week, Spring I and Spring II) will remain as scheduled.
  • Classes will be held on Monday, February 15 — President’s Day.
  • There will be no Spring Break; classes will continue as normal that week.
  • There will be no service, mission, study abroad, or athletic trips, domestic or international.

Here is what is still evolving for the Spring 2021 semester:

  • We are awaiting determinations by the New England Collegiate Conference and the NCAA as to whether competitive sports will be held in the spring.
  • We intend to celebrate the accomplishments of the Class of 2021 in May. Plans for a socially distanced, limited attendance event are underway and will be conveyed to members of the class as details become available. We also intend to celebrate the Class of 2020. Those details will also be communicated.
  • We are planning ahead for an ElmsSafe summer session and Fall 2021 semester.

Thank you again for your commitment to making this a successful and healthy semester for all. Because of your efforts, we have much to look forward to in the year ahead.

Stay safe,

Harry E. Dumay

President, Elms College

President’s Letter (August 27)


Dear Elms College Students,

Welcome to the Fall 2020 Semester, and to the 2020-2021 Academic Year! As I write this, many of you are moving into the residence halls, and it is nice to see activity on campus after six months of quiet. For some of you it is your first experience living away from home, and for others you will be adjusting to our “new normal.” Many of you will have to adjust to the “separate, but together” nature of in-person classes, campus activities, and social interactions.

To our students attending the semester completely online, welcome! We’re glad you are here, and we are committed to providing you with the full Elms experience: an educational environment that is rich, vibrant, and supportive. Our new ElmsFlex academic model allows each student to participate fully in the manner that works best and feels safest for you.

To our resident and commuter students in this week before classes begin, as you get acclimated you will see that the college has implemented a number of health and safety measures under our multi-layered ElmsSafe plan to ensure that we all — students, faculty, and staff — remain healthy. It will take the cooperation and dedication of all of us adhering to these new rules to be able to achieve our goal of completing the fall semester successfully on campus.

The ElmsSafe plan, which follows the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities of Massachusetts (AICUM) guide for colleges and universities’ safe return to campus, includes a wide range of responsibilities that we all share, including:

  • Wearing masks
  • Physically distancing
  • Using proper hand hygiene
  • Regularly cleaning high-touch surfaces
  • Limiting the size of gatherings
  • Self-reporting symptoms
  • Mandatory pre-entry testing
  • Surveillance testing
  • Contact tracing
  • Quarantine time and isolation

Please see below for my recorded welcome message and a few ElmsSafe tips by former student and now Elms employee, Hannah Bongiovanni.

Minimizing the risk of infection on campus is essential for the Elms community to remain on campus physically, and for you to enjoy the holistic Elms learning experience. It is critical that we all remain vigilant and abide by the new health and safety precautions. 

This is a challenging time for all of us as we continue to navigate through the unknowns of the COVID-19 pandemic. I am confident that we will be successful, because looking out for one’s neighbor is at the very heart of the Elms experience. 

Many of these protocols are new for all of us, and it is natural that you will have questions. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to Student Affairs () for questions about campus life, or to Academic Advising () for questions related to academics.

I am very much looking forward to seeing many of you in person this week and in the weeks to come.

Have a great academic year 2020-2021!

Harry E. Dumay

President, Elms College

President’s Letter (July 2, 2020)

Important Updates on the Safe Reopening of Campus

Dear new and returning students,

As we approach the Fourth of July, I want to express my sincere wishes to you and your family for a Happy and Safe Fourth of July holiday. I know that many of you have been eagerly awaiting an update on the College’s plans for the fall semester. Since my last message to returning students, the faculty, administration, and staff have been busy planning a positive and safe experience for all our students — one that includes robust academic and social interactions and meaningful campus experiences. I feel very good about the work that we have done in that regard and, therefore, today I am writing with some specific highlights of the Elms College Campus Reopening Plan.

Planning to reopen the campus amid an evolving pandemic is an incredibly complex and dynamic task, and I want to thank all the staff and faculty members who have been and continue to be deeply involved in the planning process. For this plan to be successful, we all must take responsibility for each other’s health and wellbeing. We must also all be flexible and ready to adapt to unfolding events.

The Elms College family is a caring and close-knit community. Our size and our traditional sense of shared responsibility constitute an asset as we advance our mission of fostering a vibrant and supportive learning environment, while emphasizing the safety of each and every member of the Elms community. I know that, even though the situation is still evolving and there are many unknowns, we can and will join together to take on this challenge and make the fall semester successful.

Detailed information about the fall semester can be found on a new web page created specifically to answer your questions and keep you updated. The following is a summary of that information.   

  • Campus Health and Safety
    • Elms College will follow at a minimum the latest health and safety guidelines provided by the Center for Disease Control, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Higher Education Reopening Task Force, and all other relevant regulatory or advisory entities.
    • Students will be required to sign the Elms Safe Agreement delineating individual responsibilities for being part of our learning community during this pandemic.
    • Masks will be required to be worn while on the Elms campus. The College will provide 1 washable, Elms-branded mask for faculty, staff, and students to wear when in close proximity to others.
    • Physical distancing policies will limit the number of individuals allowed in classrooms, lab spaces, public restrooms, the mail room, residence halls, the dining hall, and other common areas at any one time.
    • Students, employees, and visitors to the college will be identified at all times with name badges and appropriate lanyards.
    • Hand sanitizer will be available on each floor of every building.
    • The College’s Health Center will coordinate symptom monitoring and reporting for the campus. A COVID-19 checklist will need to be submitted by ALL students before the start of the semester. Resident students will be subject to a health screening prior to moving into the residence halls.
    • Both the Health Center and the Counseling Center will continue to provide consultations, referrals and resources to all students.
    • The campus is putting in place a COVID-19 testing program that will include pre-entry testing and surveillance testing for students in the residence halls and selected other groups.
    • The college has designated facilities to serve as quarantine and isolation spaces for residential students who may have been exposed to the COVID-19 virus and are not able to go home.
    • Campus cleaning and disinfecting protocols will follow Massachusetts Department of Public Health and CDC guidelines.
  • Teaching and Learning
    • The fall semester will start on September 2 and end on December 11, 2020. All classes will move to online instruction on November 30 and continue that way through finals week.
    • Most classes will be taught in a hybrid, flexible (ElmsFlex) model that gives students thepossibility of attending sessions in the classroom, participating online, or doing both. To facilitate appropriate distancing, all students will be offered specific opportunities for in-person classroom experiences. All students will also have the option to attend courses that do not require in-person delivery remotely. Students can move between the options as needed based on their personal circumstances. The ElmsFlex course design model makes it possible for international and non-local students to advance their education.
    • Plans are under development to provide for external learning experiences. If practicable, simulated or virtual learning components will be incorporated.
    • Live, virtual, or hybrid internships will be allowed on a case-by-case basis.
  • Residential and Student Life
    • Elms College is working to accommodate safely as many students as possible in the context of a less dense residential campus. Students have submitted their housing request information and Residential Life will follow up with them for any additional information.
    • Residential students will receive their room assignments no later than July 15.. A portion of our housing capacity will be reserved for any quarantining needs.
    • The residential move-in process will be spaced out over a multi-day period in mid- to late-August. Certain groups will move-in earlier for activities related to athletics, the Dorothy Day Program, or other specific programs.
    • A limited (2-3) number of helpers per student will be allowed and students will be scheduled for a specific time slot to move in, in order to facilitate social distancing.
    • Residential cleaning will follow CDC guidelines.
    • Face masks will be required in all common areas; non-resident guests will not be allowed in students’ rooms.
    • Elms College will follow guidelines provided by the NCAA to phase student-athletes’ return to on-campus athletic training and activities. The college is coordinating with other NECC institutions to determine the minimum safety standards and a possible revised schedule for potential fall competitive activities.
    • The fitness center will follow the opening guidelines recommended by the State of Massachusetts.

Elms College’s Reopening plan is being developed in the wider context of the Massachusetts and national environment. We will continue to update the plan as the situation warrants. I will continue to provide critical updates as you plan your return to classes. The latest version of the plan can be found here. We also have an extensive FAQ section you can refer to.

Thank you for your patience and understanding during this critically important and challenging time. Stay well and I look forward to seeing you in August.

Harry E. Dumay

President, Elms College