COVID-19 precautions to finish the semester strong
- Positive tests among MIT community members, particularly undergraduates, are increasing.
- All students, staff, faculty, and campus visitors are strongly encouraged to wear high-quality masks indoors between now and the end of finals to help preserve academic continuity for students.
- High-quality masks are available at no charge through new vending machines located throughout campus, at test drop-off sites, and in residence halls.
- On-demand Covid testing is available to anyone in Covid Pass.
- We will continue to watch the situation closely and will write again if additional changes are warranted.
To the members of the MIT community:
As you may be aware, last week we had an increase in COVID-19 cases in our community. We write today with an update on what we are seeing, and to share precautions we strongly encourage everyone to take so that, together, we can reduce academic disruptions for our students and successfully conclude the spring semester.
Positive case update
Over the past two weeks, the number of positive tests among MIT community members increased from 379 to 511. Throughout the pandemic, MIT cases have closely followed MWRA wastewater surveillance data trends. That changed last week, when the MWRA data declined but our case numbers rose due primarily to an increase in cases within our undergraduate student population.
With this data in hand, and because the critical final exam period is fast approaching and there’s little flexibility to offer make-up work or reschedule exams, we are urging all MIT community members to take precautions until the end of the semester.
Precautions: Masking and Testing
Beginning today and through the conclusion of finals on May 18, we are strongly encouraging all students, staff, postdocs, faculty, and campus visitors to wear high-quality masks indoors, especially in classrooms and other crowded or high-traffic areas on campus; at gatherings and events; and in residence halls. By wearing a face covering when you are indoors with others over the next few weeks, you can help us preserve academic continuity for our students – including the 3,000 who are preparing to graduate.
While the decision to wear a face covering on campus remains a personal choice, masking is something individuals can always do to reduce the spread of COVID. Even if wearing a mask is not important for you personally, it is an action that may be appreciated by others around you. In fact, even after we relaxed our indoor masking policy in March following similar moves by the state, City of Cambridge, and other area universities, we continued to see many community members wearing masks to protect their own health or protect others who may be vulnerable to infection. High-quality masks remain available for free in our residence halls, in new vending machines around campus, and at our testing drop-off sites (in Building W20 and at the MIT Medical trailer outside Building E23).
COVID testing remains available on demand for anyone in Covid Pass, and MIT community members are continuing to utilize this resource in an effective and targeted way when they are sick, have been in a potentially risky situation, or were exposed to others with COVID. If you have reasons to think you may have COVID, these are some essential steps to follow:
- Attest to symptoms or exposure in Covid Pass, and begin wearing a high-quality mask.
- Drop off a PCR test as soon as possible. If you take a rapid antigen test, and it is negative, we recommend following it up with a PCR test. If you are symptomatic, self-quarantine until the results are known.
- If you test positive, you are required to complete the case information form sent to you by MIT Medical.
For instructors, who play a key role in ensuring academic continuity, we remind you of the existing policies and resources that were communicated in January. These include the flexibility to hold up to 25 percent of your class contact hours remotely, at your discretion.
We will continue to watch the situation closely and will write again if additional changes are warranted.
We have said this many times throughout the pandemic but it bears repeating: The MIT community is made up of exceptional individuals, people who care about and look out for one another. That’s what has helped us manage through times of higher caseloads in the past, and it’s what will help us now.
If we all take common-sense precautions for the next few weeks, we have no doubt that we will finish the academic year on a positive note.
Ramona Allen, Vice President for Human Resources
Cynthia Barnhart, Provost
Suzy Nelson, Vice Chancellor and Dean for Student Life
Melissa Nobles, Chancellor
Glen Shor, Executive Vice President and Treasurer
Cecilia Stuopis, MD, Medical Director, MIT Medical
Ian A. Waitz, Vice Chancellor for Undergraduate and Graduate Education
Maria T. Zuber, Vice President for Research