Spring semester to proceed as planned

January 22, 2021

tl;dr: Spring semester move-in set for February 13–15; pre-departure testing will launch first week of February; follow the example set by seniors who lived on campus in the fall; reminder to tune into the January 27 virtual information session about the spring

Dear undergraduate students,

I am writing to follow up on my message from last week — specifically the part about MIT’s contingency planning for the spring semester.

Proceeding with our plans for spring

I noted that while we were committed to our plans for the spring, we had a responsibility to consider alternatives given Covid-19 trends and impacts here in Massachusetts and across the country. After spending the past several days seeking advice from public health experts and consulting with our Covid-19 Monitoring and Decision teams, we have decided to stay the course: undergraduate students will move in as scheduled from February 13-15 and in-person instruction will commence as planned on March 1.

We heavily weighted the input we received from public health experts. They said that pushing back move-in and the start of in-person classes would likely not reduce risk significantly and they reinforced one of the most significant lessons we learned in the fall. Namely, the framework for success this spring consists of consistent, frequent testing; rapid and comprehensive contact tracing; disciplined adherence to our Covid-19 policies; and vigilance when it comes to wearing face coverings, staying at least six feet apart, and practicing good hygiene.

We must all keep in mind that as the semester progresses, changes in Covid-19’s trajectory or new state and federal rules may force changes in our operations and policies.

Important testing update

I am pleased to confirm that we are taking an important step to bolster our already robust Covid-19 testing program. During the first week of February, MIT Medical will mail a pre-departure testing kit to eligible undergraduates currently in the United States. Please be sure to keep an eye out for an email from MIT Medical with additional details.

The goal of this program is to identify those students with Covid-19 before they depart so that they can isolate and recover prior to traveling to campus. This proactive measure is designed to protect the health of individual students; the people they would encounter during their travels; and our fellow community members. It will also help reduce demand for on-campus isolation space in those first crucial weeks of the semester.

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In closing, I’d like to once again commend the seniors who lived on campus in the fall. Your behavior, judgement, and care for our community gives us confidence that we can make the spring work.

To all the undergraduates accessing campus this spring: It’s now up to you, as you follow in the footsteps of students on campus this fall, to also follow their example. I look forward to coming together to make the most of the opportunities - and to conquer the challenges - that the spring term has in store for us.

I hope that as many of you as possible will tune in and ask questions about the upcoming semester at next Wednesday’s 7-8:15 pm ET virtual information session with Institute and student leaders.