What you need to know for a great spring semester (for undergraduate off-campus residents)

February 24, 2021

tl;dr- Tried & true practices to fight COVID; Vaccines, policies, and doing your part to protect your community; Testing and attesting for students in the area; Caring for your mind, hands & heart; New Vassar opened; Important policies.

Dear students,

Over the past year, our community rose to the challenges posed by the pandemic and reaffirmed what’s best about MIT. In that time, our actions have been guided by facts and science to prevent the spread of COVID-19 on campus. Earlier this week, we made the decision to extend Q-Week to ensure we had a solid testing baseline. We had an excellent response to this - over 99% of undergraduates followed through. We remain committed to doing everything we can to keep COVID-19’s impact on MIT'S campus very low.

As I do each semester, I write to share important information, perspectives, and policy updates.

Tried & True Practices

We know what strategies work in reducing the spread of COVID: be diligent about wearing well-fitting face-coverings (see these CDC guidelines for improving how your mask protects you), washing your hands regularly, maintaining physical distance from others, testing when Covid Pass tells you to, attesting as directed, staying in your social bubble, and being forthright about symptoms or contacts with people who have COVID.

Testing & Attesting. If you have been approved to participate in on-campus academic or research activities, plan to test when Covid Pass tells you to and attest on the days you will be working in MIT facilities. If you live in the area, you may get a COVID test up to once a week using COVID Pass even if you don’t access campus facilities.

Vaccines. As Dr. Cecilia Stuopis announced on Wednesday, February 17, Massachusetts has moved to a new phase of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout. That’s good news for the state, but it changes MIT’s plans. Please read this update from Mass.gov, follow local vaccine news through the City of Cambridge's website, and watch for additional information from MIT Medical.

Regardless of an individual student’s vaccination status, please comply with MIT’s COVID precautions--face-covering, handwashing, physical distancing, testing as directed by COVID Pass, and attesting as needed--and become familiar with MIT COVID-time policies.

Social gatherings, especially those that involve eating or drinking, are a leading cause of COVID outbreaks among students, which lead to campus shut-downs. See the updated policy on parties and gatherings for more details.

When students on or off campus are out of bounds or ignore policies and requirements--such as an off-campus party and the unauthorized pod gatherings last week--such instances will be addressed quickly by the Committee on Discipline’s expedited process. By the same token, please report unsafe practices by campus employees at https://hotline.mit.edu/. Your message will be routed quickly to the right people for their attention.


Mind, Hand & Heart

Most importantly, focusing on your mind, body, relationships, and purpose will enable you to do your best this term. Taking care of your mind and connecting your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors furthers your ability to reason and innovate, to be self-aware, and to be more caring with yourself and others. Caring for your body by getting enough sleep, eating well, and exercising regularly will improve your mood and well-being. Nurturing healthy relationships promotes a sense of belonging and respect. And lastly, cultivating a sense of purpose and reflecting on what is meaningful will help you clarify your goals in life.

Exciting Housing News

Against the backdrop of a global pandemic, we saw extraordinary changes to on-campus housing. As of now, around 2,250 students are living in undergraduate halls, 45 are in the three FSILG pilot houses, and 180 undergraduates are living in graduate residences.

The New Vassar residence’s house team and founders’ group worked on a roadmap for welcoming students to their new home. During the same period, Burton Conner’s transition team ably prepared the community for the building’s renewal, which is targeted for completion in fall 2022.

FSILG Pilot. DSL partnered with the Association of Independent Living Groups, FSILG alumni, and current FSILG leaders, which resulted in the partial reopening of three FSILGs in Cambridge and Boston with a goal of learning how to operate small living communities during COVID. FSILG residents will follow the same COVID policies and testing requirements as students living on campus.

Spring Athletics

Once again, as with many peer schools, we made the difficult decision to cancel varsity, club, and intramural sports for the spring. The pandemic has been particularly hard on college athletics, and I know how difficult this is for our student-athletes who have missed as many as three seasons of competition.

Lastly, remember that DAPER has classes for you. Check out their online group exercise options and get the physical and mental health benefits of a vigorous workout wherever you are.

Thank You

Even though you are not living on campus, know that we are here to support you. Please stay current on MIT COVID news through the Campus Guide, MIT Now, MIT COVID Apps, and the policies below. I hope to see you back on campus very soon.


Suzy M. Nelson
Vice President and Dean for Student Life


Understanding Key Policies

The Mind and Hand Book contains important information about policies intended to help you stay safe and healthy, including the following:

  1. MIT’s Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act statement - MIT’s policy, potential sanctions, and resources to prevent substance and alcohol abuse;
  2. The Good Samaritan Amnesty Policy and COVID Amnesty Policy - Seek help in a medical emergency involving alcohol, prohibited substances, or COVID contact tracing;
  3. The federal Title IX law and MIT's sexual misconduct policy and Title IX resources, which address sexual misconduct prevention and response;
  4. The Massachusetts state law on hazing and MIT's own anti-hazing rules, which contribute to a positive student life experience; and
  5. MIT Police's Annual Security and Fire Safety Report outlines important information about campus safety, crime prevention, and how MIT Police can support community members.