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Knox Launches Relief Fund to Help Students during COVID-19 Pandemic

An aerial view of Old Main from the south lawn of the Knox campus

Late in the afternoon on the day before the start of winter term finals, Knox students received urgent news. Because of the accelerating COVID-19 pandemic, they would have to move off campus for at least the first half of spring term (the College has since decided to teach the entirety of spring term remotely). Further, they needed to be out of their residence halls within the next seven days.

Meanwhile, Knox students studying abroad—at Knox in Barcelona and at other programs located in regions from which the U.S. government was restricting travel—suddenly had to make arrangements to travel back to the United States while they still could.

If you’ve ever tried to book a flight less than two weeks from the departure date or change the dates of an existing reservation, you know how expensive it can be.

Thanks to the initiative of Knox alumni, however, the cost of travel was at least one thing students did not have to worry about. After one former student mailed a check to President Teresa Amott with a note asking her to “use this to ease pain in the Knox community,” the College was able to establish the COVID-19 Relief Fund to cover extraordinary expenses related to the pandemic.

As students completed finals and sorted through belongings to determine what they would need to get through the next few weeks, Anne Ehrlich, vice president for student development, urged them to contact her personally if they needed help altering their travel plans. Because the College allowed students to petition to stay on campus if their personal circumstances made it difficult to return home, Ehrlich noted, several “asked to stay on campus because the cost of travel seemed like an insurmountable obstacle.” Once they learned Knox would purchase their tickets, “their relief was palpable,” she said.

Within days, the Fund had paid for 11 flights for students who couldn’t afford to return home—with destinations ranging from Vermont to Vietnam. The Division of Student Development also purchased tickets for students returning to the U.S. from Europe to ensure they were able to return before additional restrictions were enacted.

Since then, students have been able to request funding to pay for laptops and other equipment to access online course materials. The Fund will also pay for other unanticipated and immediate financial needs incurred as a result of the pandemic, such as additional materials for faculty moving courses online and support for staff as they continue to conduct the business of the College remotely.

Want to make a contribution to Knox’s COVID-19 relief efforts? Visit to make a gift today.

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Knox College

Printed on Wednesday, May 27, 2020