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Hampshire College Plans to Welcome Back Students This Fall

The Hampshire College sign at the entrance to the campus. (Robin Lubbock/WBUR)
The Hampshire College sign at the entrance to the campus. (Robin Lubbock/WBUR)

Amid the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic, one Massachusetts college "fully intends" to have students on its campus this fall.

Hampshire College President Ed Wingenbach, in a Tuesday message to his school's community, said Hampshire "has some significant advantages for ensuring health and safety of our students on campus," and plans to welcome students to its Amherst campus for the fall semester "as long as the State of Massachusetts allows colleges to open, which seems likely."

"We're projecting enrollment of 550-600 students on our 800+ acre campus, making social distancing viable," Wingenbach wrote. "Our class sizes are small, allowing students and professors to spread out in classrooms. Our students have single rooms, and we have surplus housing for quarantine or isolation if necessary."

State higher education officials expect colleges and universities to face long-term challenges from the COVID-19 pandemic, including financial strain and operational adjustments to comply with social distancing.

Questions were raised about the future of Hampshire College in 2019, when college officials announced a search for a long-term partner to keep the school viable, along with layoffs and plans to enroll a smaller class that fall. Since then, Hampshire launched a new fundraising campaign, efforts to reinvent its academic programs and a plan to gradually rebuild enrollment.

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