Coronavirus update

January 31, 2020
Cynthia Barnhart, Chancellor, 2014–2021 | Martin A. Schmidt, Provost, 2014–2022 |

To the members of the MIT community,

As the coronavirus outbreak grows and the World Health Organization (WHO) has declared a global health emergency, we want to update you on MIT’s response.

We are closely monitoring this situation and implementing recommendations from local, state, and federal health organizations to keep our community safe. There continues to be no identified risk to MIT and no reported cases in Massachusetts, but with the spring semester set to begin next week, we understand that community members may have questions and concerns. Here are the latest updates.

Providing factual information and helpful guidance

MIT Medical has prepared a comprehensive FAQ about the virus: its origins, symptoms, and treatments. The FAQ, which will be updated regularly, also describes safety measures MIT is taking in our departments, labs, centers, and residence halls, and it provides guidance on steps individuals can take to stop the virus' spread. It also includes information on precautions you can take if you have just returned from China. MIT Medical is the best source of information about the virus and MIT’s response.

Traveling to and in mainland China

Due to concerns about the spread of coronavirus, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a Level 3: Avoid Nonessential Travel warning for mainland China. The US Department of State also issued their highest alert, a Level 4: Do Not Travel advisory to China. Within China, the Chinese government has imposed a travel ban preventing individuals from leaving Wuhan and 16 surrounding cities.

With this federal guidance in mind, and in keeping with MIT's international travel risk policy, we strongly advise all MIT community members against traveling to mainland China at this time:

  • For students: Until the travel warnings are lifted, students are not permitted to travel to mainland China for MIT activities. In exceptional circumstances, a waiver to the travel restriction may be considered. All MIT student programs held in mainland China are currently on hold.
  • For faculty, staff, and postdocs: Because traveling to China puts not only travelers at risk but, upon their return, also the MIT community, we strongly urge all MIT faculty, staff, and postdocs not to travel to mainland China until the warnings are lifted. Members of the MIT community who are engaged in activities in China and need to travel there urgently must complete the Institute's risk acknowledgment form and must discuss their travel plans and the associated risks—including risks to the community—with their DLC head and with the International Safety and Security Manager.

Caring for our community

We are especially concerned about members of our community who may have family members in the affected area, and have reached out to provide guidance and support. We have also contacted members of the community who we know traveled to the affected area during IAP, and from this outreach, we have identified no risk to the MIT community.

We are disheartened to share that Chinese individuals both here at MIT and at other universities have been targeted and excluded from campus activities due to fear and misinformation about the virus. This is unacceptable. MIT aspires to be a community where we treat one another with decency, respect, and kindness. It is essential that each of us uphold and demonstrate these core values.

We will continue to closely monitor this rapidly evolving situation, and ensure that our response keeps our community healthy and safe.


Cynthia Barnhart, Chancellor

Martin A. Schmidt, Provost