Bard College at Simon's Rock: the Early College

Fall 2020 Reopening Plan Announcement

Dear All,

Our Fall 2020 Reopening Plan can now be found on our website. We are also providing a summary of the plan's major points in this announcement. Questions and comments on the plan can be submitted via our comment form.

It is our intent to reopen the campus with primarily in-person, socially distanced classes; we will do so with the utmost priority being the safety and wellbeing of our students, faculty, staff, and neighbors. Our plan has been formulated in close coordination with state and local authorities as well as public health officials. As the public health situation evolves and the state provides new guidance, we will adjust our planning accordingly and will keep you updated.

My ability to approach the decision to reopen campus carefully, thoughtfully, and in an informed way is a testament to the various Reopening Committees and subcommittees that have worked diligently over the last several months. This decision was also informed by numerous discussions with local, state, and national public health experts and officials, my counterparts at schools around the state, College counsel, our Board of Overseers, and Bard College.

While we cannot completely avoid all risks upon returning to campus, we are determined to work together as a community to mitigate risk to the fullest extent possible. As we return to campus, we will operate under the philosophy of mutual responsibility and care. We will look out for and support one another, but it will take consistency, adherence, and cooperation to succeed in our efforts. This means that we will expect all individuals coming to campus to act mindfully, in accordance with all Simon’s Rock policies and procedures.

Simon’s Rock is a unique and adaptable community, and I am confident that together we will make it through this challenging and unpredictable time. Thank you, as always, for your patience, cooperation, and commitment to Simon’s Rock.


John Weinstein, Provost of Bard Academy and Bard College at Simon's Rock

Summary of Fall 2020 Reopening Plan


The fall semester will begin as planned, with classes starting on Monday, August 31. The semester will be conducted with primarily in-person, socially distanced classes. A number of courses will be offered remotely for students unable to return to the campus. Students who wish to take classes completely online should consult with the Dean of Academic Affairs,, to create a plan for Remote Learning Status.

Academic Calendar
The academic calendar has been revised to minimize student travel for both Bard Academy and Bard College at Simon’s Rock. The following updates have been made in the revised academic calendars.

  • The regular full-week October break will be replaced with a two-day break from regular classes; Symposium Day will occur at this time.
  • Students will go home for November break and will remain at home for the rest of the fall semester.
  • The final two weeks of classes, including the College Reading Days and Exams, will be conducted online; students remaining on campus during this time will also take those classes online.
  • The spring semester will remain as originally scheduled, for now. We will update the spring calendar in the fall if conditions require changes.
  • The fall semester ends on Friday, December 18.

International Students: Regulations for international students recently introduced by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security are still being reviewed, and we hope to have clear guidance shortly. In the meantime, Simon’s Rock, including our International Student Support Team, will continue to support and advocate for our international students so their academic program is not interrupted. The International Student Support Team can be reached at

  Read our Statement of Support


The Classroom Experience
Masks/face coverings must be worn by everyone, and social distancing must be maintained at all times in classrooms and lab spaces. Upper limits on class size have been set based on square footage of the rooms, and physical markers and signage will be displayed throughout classroom facilities to ensure proper social distancing. When possible, faculty will aim to hold certain classes outdoors.


Testing On Arrival

All residential students will be tested upon arrival to campus, and twice weekly for the first two weeks of the semester, then once weekly for the remainder of the semester. Day students will also be a part of this testing period during arrival; more information will follow. Faculty and staff will be tested weekly.

Residential students

Students will arrive in phases. Each student will receive a scheduled date and time in which they are permitted to arrive on campus to move into their assigned room.

New student arrivals will take place between Monday, August 17 and Tuesday, August 18.

Returning student arrivals will take place between Sunday, August 23 and Monday, August 24.

Housing assignments for deposited new students will begin in early August. Returning students will be advised of their housing assignments in early August, as well.

Notification of exact move-in day and time will be sent to deposited students in early August. Returning students who have already purchased a plane ticket with a specific return date should contact so we can accommodate your plans.

Students are asked to limit the number of family or friends accompanying them to campus to one (1) person. We ask that this person only help to unload the vehicle and to remain outside of the residence hall. Students are encouraged to ship items in advance, which can be brought to their rooms ahead of their arrival. Students are asked not to arrive early and to contact Campus Safety to be transferred to the on-duty administrator if they anticipate arriving late.

Students will be asked to self-quarantine at home for 14 days prior to arriving on campus. Upon arriving on campus, all students will be quarantined in their dorm room or apartment for 24–48 hours, pending test results. After a negative test result, students will be permitted to join the campus community.

Day Students

Upon arriving on campus, each student should call Campus Safety to report that they are on campus and should check-out with Campus Safety again when departing at the end of the day. Off-campus and day students are not permitted in residence hall rooms or common areas; however, there is a designated space for these students to relax between classes in the Grotto area.

Health & Safety

Personal Safety

Simon’s Rock expects everyone on campus to adhere to personal safety best practices as outlined by the CDC, which includes handwashing, the use of face masks/face coverings, social distancing, and symptom monitoring. Masks/face coverings must be worn by everyone on campus indoors and outdoors.

All faculty, staff, and students will be expected to sign a pledge that affirms their understanding of campus procedures and policies, as well as their commitment to the safety of the Simon’s Rock community. Faculty and staff have received this pledge as well as a COVID-19 safety training. Students and families will receive the pledge and training resources in the next few weeks. Simon’s Rock will conduct ongoing training with faculty, staff, and students during the semester to ensure expectations are clear and well-communicated.


Ongoing, weekly COVID-19 testing will be required for all students, faculty, and staff. Tests will be administered upon arrival and continue throughout the rest of the in-person semester. We’ve arranged with the Eli and Edythe L. Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard to provide testing via a minimally invasive, self-administered nasal swab, and conducted under observation by a trained professional. All testing will be free.

We are also developing a reporting system to monitor students, faculty, and staff for symptoms of COVID-19; more information about this process will be provided in the coming weeks.

Contact Tracing

If a positive case is detected on campus, Simon’s Rock will work with local public health officials to conduct contact tracing. A group of Simon’s Rock employees trained in contact tracing—through a course developed by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies—will support the efforts of the public health officials.

Positive Cases

Our plan establishes protocols for on-campus treatment, quarantine, and isolation in the event of positive cases of COVID-19. Should a student test positive for COVID-19, they will be immediately isolated in designated housing. Students will remain in designated isolation housing units until cleared by local health authorities, Campus Life and Campus Safety staff will work together to ensure meal delivery and regular wellness checks on ill students, and students will be able to continue with their academic program of study. Simon’s Rock employees who test positive for COVID-19 will not be permitted to return to campus until they meet all requirements set forth in the employee return-to-work plan. The Wellness Center, including Wellness Center nurses, will work closely with any ill person as well as local health officials to perform necessary contact tracing, and promptly inform others who may be affected.

Wellness Center & Mental Health

Services from the Wellness Center, as well as mental health services/counseling, will be available primarily via telemedicine by calling 413-528-7353 or making an appointment on the Wellness Center website. Anyone experiencing a health emergency should immediately contact Campus Safety by calling 413-528-7291 or dialing 0 from any campus phone. A Campus Safety officer will speak with you about your concerns and then connect you to the appropriate resource, including the on-call nurse.

Assessing Public Health Conditions

Developments in the spread and severity of the COVID-19 pandemic are fast-changing. Currently, cases are spiking in certain regions of the country, leaving the broader breadth and trajectory of the pandemic uncertain. Simon’s Rock will remain in close contact with public health partners and local officials over the coming months in order to assess the ongoing safety and viability of sustaining an in-person semester. The prioritization of the health and safety of our community—including the ability of Simon’s Rock and our local healthcare systems to manage an increased caseload—would feature significantly in any decision to consider a mid-semester shutdown of in-person campus operations. Simon’s Rock is working with local public health officials to plan for scenarios necessitating a campus evacuation due to COVID-19.

Residential & Campus Life

Residence Halls

Our plan is for each on-campus student to have no more than one roommate. Under Massachusetts State guidelines, students who share a room are considered a household. Masks/face coverings must be worn in communal areas, but are not required when only roommates are together in their room. Students must wear a mask/face covering whenever they are out of their rooms/living spaces. To use a lounge, kitchen, study room, or to access the laundry room in Residence Halls, students must sign-up with their Residence Director. Students are not permitted to visit or gather in residence halls other than the one in which they reside, and residential card access will be limited to the dorm or building in which the student lives.


The Dining Hall will be open for primarily grab-and-go dining; however, there is limited capacity for in-person, socially distanced dining. Plexiglass partitions will be installed at all serving stations, and tables and chairs will be placed six feet apart, with up to three chairs at each table to ensure social distancing. Students will be assigned a one-hour lunch period that works with their class schedule in order to minimize traffic at the Dining Hall. Afternoon class schedules will be adjusted by one half-hour to make this possible. The Rock Café Snack Bar will also be open for all meals on weekdays, including breakfast, lunch, and late dinner.

Travel Off-Campus

Students are requested to limit all travel outside of Great Barrington during the semester. Students visiting downtown must wear a mask/face covering, practice social distancing, and monitor for any and all symptoms.

Capacity transportation will be available; all campus vehicles will be limited to allow for six feet of social distancing. Vans will be limited to two passengers and the driver, and buses will be limited to six passengers and the driver. All required personal safety protocols must be followed by drivers and riders. Students using the Berkshire Regional Transit Authority (BRTA) are expected to follow all protocols as indicated by BRTA. Students should not travel outside Great Barrington on the BRTA.


The Kilpatrick will operate in accordance with all updated guidelines for Massachusetts’ reopening of gyms and will be available to students, faculty, staff, and members. Guests and non-members will not be permitted in the Kilpatrick. Simon’s Rock will be offering intramural sports in the fall semester; there will be no competition against other institutions.

Community & Events


Given state restrictions on gathering sizes in Massachusetts, we will combine the 2019–2020 and 2020–2021 Commencement ceremonies. The ceremony will take place for graduates in May 2021. More details will follow as the planning continues.


Many campus events have been postponed, canceled, or moved online. Visit the campus calendar to browse virtual events. Simon’s Rock continues to offer virtual performances, lectures, and conferences—many of them free—and we welcome and encourage our neighbors to join us.

Campus Access

The following campus visitor guidelines will go into effect as of August 1.

  • Students, faculty, and staff, including most live-in staff, are not permitted to have guests on campus until further notice.
  • Employees who live in single dwelling houses on the campus periphery may have guests as long as they are not accessing the main areas of campus.
  • Kilpatrick members only are allowed on campus as far as the Kilpatrick Athletic Center.
  • Simon’s Rock has a partnership with the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center for a drive-in theater. Ticket holders to each drive-in movie will be allowed access to the designated area of campus.
  • The campus will be closed to casual visitors, including dog walkers and campus walkers.
  • Only individuals with business with the College may be on the campus. All authorized campus visitors must be registered through the department with which they have business, must follow public health protocols and conduct symptom monitoring, and must be logged in to campus with date, time, and contact information at their destination.
  • The gates will be closed at Lake Mansfield Road and the Gatehouse entrance so that all entry to campus is only via the Lower Pond entrance.

While on campus, all students and employees must wear their identification card in a way that others can easily see (e.g. a lanyard or name badge). This will assist in assuring that the main areas of campus are being used by students and employees only.


Custodial staff will continue to clean and disinfect all campus buildings in accordance with CDC guidelines and health and safety protocols. Where feasible and appropriate, hallways and stairwells may be one-way only. Doors similarly may be exit-only or enter-only. Safety and accessibility will guide these considerations. When tight spaces cannot be made into single direction use, there may be a directional-priority indicated. Signage and floor markings will be put in place to clearly communicate this information.

On campus grounds more broadly, directional signage will indicate instructions for maintaining social distancing, such as yielding to oncoming pedestrians on bridges or outdoor stairs. Everyone is asked to be mindful of other pedestrians on pathways and to pass each other while maintaining as much social distance as possible.