A different kind of welcome: Fall 2020 Covid policies (for on-campus graduate students)

September 07, 2020

YOU NEED TO KNOW: attest daily and get tested as required; off-campus event prohibition; wear your MIT ID; indoor and outdoor space use; floor kitchens and food update; recreation hours; success depends on all of us!

Dear graduate students,

This is an unusual fall semester as MIT manages a pandemic, and the United States and countries around the world deal with the mounting toll of Covid cases. Against this backdrop, there is continued unrest in cities across the country in the wake of police violence, systemic inequity, and the deaths of too many Black Americans. Further exacerbating these situations are natural disasters in the country’s southern and western regions and a contentious national election.

These are difficult times that test our spirit and resolve. If you need support or just want to talk, please reach out because MIT is here for you.

MIT’s plan for moving forward during the pandemic is guided by science and common sense. Life on campus is different, but if we work together and adhere to and have patience with newly developed policies, we can meet the challenges ahead.


Monitoring and Compliance. Compliance with these best practices and policies outlined below will help us control the spread of the virus. MIT will take swift disciplinary action in response to noncompliance with the Student and Resident Campus Agreement through an expedited Committee on Discipline process for COVID-19 policy violations.

Ongoing Testing and Attestation. To continue residing in on-campus housing, all residents over age 14 must attest to their well-being on a daily basis using Covid Pass online or through the Atlas app (for iOS or Android) and get tested as required at the trailers near MIT Medical.

If you don't own a smartphone for the Covid Pass app, contact IS&T at 617-253-1101 or email covidapps-help@mit.edu for assistance.

Support After A Positive Test. If you are experiencing potential Covid symptoms, call MIT Medical's Covid-19 hotline at 617-253-4865 and follow their instructions precisely. Staff from MIT Medical and the CARE Team will assist residents diagnosed with Covid-19 until they recover fully. To be fully prepared, we suggest packing a Ready Kit as described in the Campus Guide and watch this video about what happens after a positive test.

Don’t organize or attend off-campus events, parties, or gatherings until further notice--they are a leading cause of Covid hotspots on college campuses. Small on-campus gatherings are permitted under specific circumstances (See the “Spaces and Food” section below). [Please note: A message clarifying this policy was sent by Suzy Nelson to all students on September 9. Read it now.]

Wear Your MIT ID. All students (plus partners and family members), faculty, and staff who are granted access to campus must have their MIT IDs visible when in classrooms, labs, and on other Institute property. You do not have to wear your ID in your residence hall.

Spaces and Food

Indoor Residential Spaces and Visitors. Residents may work with their house team to reserve spaces in their residence hall for group use. The number of people in a designated space must not exceed occupancy limits, and everyone in the space must wear face coverings and keep physically distant from others.

Additionally, you may have one friend who also lives in your house visit your private room. If you live with other people (e.g., in a suite), please discuss this with your suitemates before your visitor arrives and be mindful of their situation and concerns. Students in quarantine are not permitted visitors at any time.

Residence Hall Outdoor Spaces. Beginning September 8, students living on campus may access their residence hall’s courtyards, roof decks, and other outdoor spaces. Posted occupancy limits must be observed (50 people max), where groups of up to 10 may socialize together. If following physical distancing requirements - keeping at least six feet of separation from others - face coverings may be removed when outdoors.

Reservable West Campus Spaces. On-campus residents may also reserve several spaces on West campus--the Student Center Garden (between the Student Center and DuPont Gym), barbecue pits near Kresge Auditorium, and an area near the DuPont Tennis Courts (see Campus Activities Complex webpage).

Other Non-Residential Outdoor Common Areas. On-campus residents and faculty, staff, and students with a valid Covid Pass may use designated spaces in outdoor common areas (e.g., Killian Court, Hockfield Court) marked by fencing or circles painted on the ground. Spaces will have a posted occupancy limit (max 50, groups of up to ten people).

Massachusetts or Cambridge may have less restrictive guidelines on face-coverings and physical distancing when outdoors, particularly for construction workers who mostly work outside. Whatever the state or city may say, MIT reminds you to wear a face-covering if you cannot remain six feet apart from others at all times when outdoors.

Kitchens. All floor kitchens are closed except to residents whose living units don’t have kitchens (e.g., single rooms in 70 Amherst and three-bedroom suites in Ashdown). Observe capacity limits, and clean kitchen utensils and surfaces thoroughly after use. House operations managers will ensure that cleaning supplies are available.

Food. Faculty, staff, graduate students, and families living on campus can visit Dunkin’, Cambridge Grill, and TechMart in the Student Center starting today, September 7. These eateries will be open from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekdays only, and closed on weekends. Visit the retail dining section of the Student Life website for more detailsPlease note that only people living on campus are permitted to use the Student Center. This chart may help clarify who has access to campus facilities.

Recreation and Student Activities. DAPER indoor facilities will open tomorrow, September 8, only to students, faculty, staff, and families living in residence halls, and graduate students living off campus who have permission to access campus via Covid Pass. Campus events and in-person student organization activities have been canceled.

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The success of the semester depends on every one of us!
We will monitor our progress and be flexible in our approach. If conditions worsen on campus, in the area, or across the state, we will adjust course to protect the public health. As there are updates, we will write and post changes to the Covid policy page.

Additional Policies and Updates
Please review The Mind and Hand Book and other important policy information.

Our plan for the fall and beyond is being put to the test. Working together, we can pass it with flying colors.