MIT enters Phase 2 of its reopening

August 12, 2020
Cynthia Barnhart, Chancellor, 2014–2021 | Martin A. Schmidt, Provost, 2014–2022 | Maria T. Zuber, Vice President for Research |

To the members of the MIT community:

Following on President Reif’s letter yesterday announcing the next phase of MIT’s adjustment to Covid-19, we write to share details on the phase we have been in, the one we are now entering, and future phases if all goes well. This message also contains important new information about access to campus.

Today, MIT enters Phase 2 of resuming its campus operations. This “Cautious” phase includes three key operational updates:

  1. All academic units may now initiate partial access to campus offices and teaching laboratories, for research and instructional preparation, at a maximum of 50% of capacity. Details are outlined below, and further implementation instructions will be provided to deans and academic department/lab/center (DLC) leadership soon.
  2. MIT Medical is initiating, as of this Friday, August 14, regular viral testing for members of the MIT community who are accessing academic and administrative buildings. The MIT Covid Pass app is being updated, as well, to alert users to the need for more frequent testing. Those who do not complete required testing will not be able to access academic and administrative buildings. More details are below.
  3. Use of outdoor campus space is limited to those enrolled in MIT safety protocols, including MIT Medical testing and Covid Access/Covid Pass, with a maximum group size of 10 persons. [NOTE: Maximum group size was reduced from 25 to 10 on August 21, 2020.]

This step into our next phase is an important one, built upon careful planning and hard work. As we go forward, we will use this phase chart and table as a reference guides for decisions on further ramp-up measures, as well as in preparing for any scaling back. We will, of course, continue to adhere to guidelines from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

Details on expanded access and expanded testing

As President Reif affirmed yesterday, in order to continue to minimize the density of our on-campus population, every MIT staff member who can work successfully from home will need to continue doing so.

But effective today, academic DLCs can begin to facilitate office access for faculty, researchers, instructional staff, and graduate students whose research and/or instructional activities require that access. The maximum level of 50% access means that DLCs are able to allocate office access equal to 50% of the normal on-campus hours available to their faculty, staff, and grad students.

We have found during the ongoing research ramp-up that this approach provides campus work-hour flexibility within DLCs, while maintaining low population density within rooms, floors, and buildings. MIT DLCs and research groups that are participating in the research ramp-up will remain at their current maximum of 50% of normal on-campus hours, but can now also allocate those hours to include work conducted in research offices and instructional preparation spaces.

DLCs that have not participated in the research ramp-up will now be able to plan for and schedule use of office space and instructional preparation space, up to a maximum total of 50% of normal on-campus time among the DLC (or DLC subgroup) members, using processes similar to those used by DLCs that have participated in the research ramp-up.

For everyone who accesses campus, Covid testing will now be required to maintain that access. Any student, resident, faculty member, staff member, or contract employee who has been added to Covid Pass to enable access to campus must be tested regularly. Only undergraduates living in one of MIT’s residence halls this fall can be added to Covid Pass and granted access to MIT facilities.

The Covid Pass system will be updated as of this Friday, August 14, to reflect this change. Please refer to the app, which is available via a website or a mobile app (iOS, Android), to determine when you must get your next test – and watch for regular prompts from the app to ensure you keep up with testing requirements. Your testing requirements are determined by how frequently you access campus, and the Covid Pass app will help you understand when you must be tested to gain future access.

  • Our goal is that every individual who is now using Covid Pass for regular campus access should have a new baseline test by next Thursday, August 20.
  • Going forward, people living in MIT residence halls will need to test at least twice weekly.
  • Nonresident students, faculty, and staff who are on campus 4 days or more per week will also need to test at least twice weekly.
  • Nonresident students, faculty, and staff who are on campus 1-3 days per week will need to test at least once per week.
  • Anyone accessing campus less frequently will need a test on file within the past 7 days to gain access to campus. If it has been more than 7 days since the last test, the person must be tested before access is granted and should plan in advance for this.

MIT will regularly evaluate this testing protocol and make adjustments as needed to protect the health of the community: As we significantly ramp up our testing to keep our community safe, we may experience unexpected snags, and we ask for everyone’s understanding in advance. With more of us on campus, we all have to play our part in modeling the solution.

This move to MIT Phase 2 will facilitate campus access for more members of our community in support of MIT’s research and educational mission. We appreciate the input of the “Thunder Committee” of MIT faculty and staff who have considered office access policies, as well as the continued input of the “Lightning Committee” that has been supporting the research ramp-up. We also thank the many MIT colleagues who have developed new technologies and processes to facilitate our safe use of campus-based resources.

Questions regarding MIT Phase 2 and other operational details of this campus ramp-up may be referred to your DLC leadership; addressed by referring to online resources at; or directed to

Thank you for your continued feedback as we adapt campus operations so we can continue to work, live, and learn together during the pandemic response.


Cynthia Barnhart, Chancellor
Martin Schmidt, Provost 
Maria Zuber, Vice President for Research