Accurate information for Covid-19 exception process

March 12, 2020

Dear colleagues,

We are writing to share the email that we sent to all students last night. We want to call your attention to the following section about the exception process we outlined for undergraduates moving home or to another off-campus location because we know that some faculty have been hearing concerns.

Here is what we wrote in our message to students:

We will consider limited exceptions to allow certain students to remain on campus. Exceptions may include:

  • International students who have concerns that they would not be able to return to MIT due to visa issues;
  • International students who will have difficulty returning to their home country if it has been hard hit by COVID-19; and
  • Students who do not have a home to go to, or for whom going home would be unsafe given the circumstances of their country or home life.
     

To request an exception, you must complete this short form by noon on Friday, March 13. There is a large group of student support staff within the Division of Student Life and the Office of the Vice Chancellor who will be reviewing each submission and responding within 24 hours. They will either answer your questions, address your concerns, or get you to the right person who can help. As hard as it is, though, we do need all undergraduate students to make plans to pack their belongings and travel home, or to another location off-campus, by March 17, 2020.

The exception form also includes a field to describe how paying for your departure may create a significant financial hardship. This will allow the team to evaluate, on a case-by-case basis, what steps need to be taken to assist students in need.  

Here is what we think it’s important for you to know

  • We have a responsibility to respond to the urgent pandemic we are facing. We also have compassion for the students who are seeking exceptions.
  • A team of experienced student support professionals are carefully reviewing each request and engaging with students about their specific cases, including exploring and discussing all options available to them.
  • For particularly complex cases, and for those cases that are denied, we are conducting a second review.
  • We have received just over 600 exception and financial assistance requests and reviewed about half of them. Of those, we approved 156 and the remaining 150 are either actively being discussed with the student or we have said no. Additionally, we are committing significant resources to assist with travel home.
     

If you hear from students who have questions or concerns about this process, please direct them to the student support professional who is managing their case so they can continue to discuss.

We need your help getting accurate information out to our community about how serious this situation is so that we can keep everyone safe.

Sincerely,

Cynthia Barnhart, Chancellor
Suzy M. Nelson, Vice President and Dean for Student Life
Ian A. Waitz, Vice Chancellor for Undergraduate and Graduate Education