News live updates

COVID-19 live updates: Virtual career fair, BC to be quarantine center, CAPD announces student resources

Updates

MIT EHS releases COVID-19 response

Sunday, March 22, 7:00 p.m. EDT

MIT Environment, Health, and Safety (EHS) released an FAQ yesterday based on the Institute’s COVID-19 response. The FAQ addresses questions about off-site remote work and provides guidance for work-related injuries.

The FAQ builds upon the guidance from Research Administration Services within the Office of the Vice President for Research.

“Under no circumstances should researchers take any equipment, supplies, or any other research-related material offsite… other than laptops and data-storage devices,” EHS writes. Researchers can email questions and concerns to research-continuity@mit.edu.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration considers remote injuries or illnesses as “work-related” if they occur “while the employee is performing work for pay or compensation in the home,” and are “directly related to the performance of work rather than to the general home environment or setting.”

On-campus employees with injuries should inform MIT Medical using their “call first” model, including for “work-related injuries that may require a visit to Urgent Care,” EHS writes. For injuries requiring immediate attention, employees should contact MIT Police at 617-253-1212 or dial 100 from any campus phone.

Researchers can email the EHS team at environment@mit.edu or call 617-452-3477 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. on weekdays. Outside of those hours, researchers can call the operations center at 617-253-4948.

EHS writes that it will continue to update the FAQ “with new information based on questions from the community and guidance from the Institute, as well as from local and federal agencies.”

Spring Career Fair virtualized

Sunday, March 22, 7:00 p.m. EDT

A virtual Spring Career Fair will be held April 8, according to today’s MIT Advisory

Students will interact with employers “in a virtual environment through the use of chat rooms,” the MIT Advisory writes. “Similar to an in-person career fair, students can share their resume and chat with employers about current or future opportunities.” 

Employer registration is ongoing. An updated list of participating companies is available on the virtual career fair website.

CAPD announces student resources

Sunday, March 22, 7:00 p.m. EDT

Career Advising and Professional Development (CAPD) announced resources for students with questions about advising, summer, and graduate school plans in today’s MIT Advisory.

Students, postdocs, and alumni can book virtual appointments with CAPD through Careerbridge, powered by Handshake

The CAPD website lists several alternative summer plans for students, including internships at local companies, research at local universities, PKG Center social impact internships, “free online courses like Coursera, EdX, and LinkedIn Learning,” independent projects, volunteering, building a portfolio, or exploring graduate school programs.

CAPD encourages students, postdocs, and alumni “to complete their account profile in CareerBridge so as to receive alerts and notifications about opportunities.”

Burton Conner to be student quarantine center

Sunday, March 22, 7:00 p.m. EDT

Burton Conner “has been designated for students … who may need quarantine (due to exposure, risk factors, or symptoms) or isolation (for those who have tested positive and need care, but whose condition is not severe enough to require hospital care),” according to a MIT News article today.

Students who live in either on-campus or off-campus housing may be housed in BC.

BC will be “staffed with medical professionals to assist in these students’ recoveries,” MIT News reported.

About 245 undergraduates are moving into Baker, Maseeh, and McCormick for on-campus emergency housing this weekend.

“Our goal is to support those students who remain with dining options, as well as expert in-house medical care, should they become ill,” Vice President and Dean for Student Life Suzy Nelson told MIT News.

MIT Medical calls for personal protective equipment donations

Friday, March 20, 2:07 a.m. EDT

MIT Medical is collecting donations of personal protective equipment (PPE) for local hospitals and medical centers in “acute need” of it.

Professor in Medical Engineering and Science Elazer Edelman PhD ’84 wrote to the MIT community on behalf of MIT Medical today that local hospitals and medical centers are in “desperate” need for PPE, “and are actively reaching out for our assistance in getting through this time of great need.” 

PPE being requested includes face masks (N95s, surgical, clinical, or other), face shields, gloves, gowns, powered air-purifying respirators, cleaning wipes with bleach, hand sanitizers, swaps (Dacron, rayon, or nylon), and various culture media, according to Edelman.

Each department, lab, and center (DLC) should designate a “secure, single collection point,” for example a lockable room, in which all unopened PPE may be collected, Edelman wrote. DLCs should inform EHS Associate Director Nick Paquin of this central location at npaquin@mit.edu.

Edelman wrote that labs with excess PPE should sort them into broad categories, such as specifying large boxes to contain “like items (N95, masks, gloves, etc.) without mixing one type with other types.”

Each lab should “assess its own needs and retain what is needed to safely complete approved laboratory maintenance and Covid-related research,” Edelman wrote, adding that individuals should not enter campus for the purpose of donation if no one in the lab is planning to be on campus.

“We will coordinate pick up of these items and will determine how to distribute the items in a fair and equitable fashion, based on need and service area,” Edelman wrote.

Individuals asked for donations or have received but not addressed such inquiries should forward all requests to donate-ppe@mit.edu.

Graduate students “strongly” encouraged to leave on-campus housing

Friday, March 20, 2:07 a.m. EDT

Graduate students are being provided financial assistance and storage services to depart campus by the end of the day Sunday. In an update sent to graduate student residents Friday, Chancellor Cynthia Barnhart PhD ’88, Vice President and Dean for Student Life Suzy Nelson, and Vice Chancellor Ian Waitz wrote that “further reductions in the number of residents living in MIT on-campus graduate housing are necessary.”

Barnhart, Nelson, and Waitz wrote that “less than a quarter of” the graduate student population has moved out. They wrote that they are “strongly encouraging” those able to leave on-campus housing for a “less-dense living arrangement” “to do so this weekend.”

The update writes that new evidence has been found that suggests COVID-19 “can be transmitted through contaminated surfaces” and remain airborne “for longer than previously thought.”

In addition, the update states that not all graduate students are expected to leave as “some do not have reasonable housing options and some need to remain on campus to fulfill critical research roles.”

All graduate students are required to complete a personal form sent by email “as soon as possible and no later than noon” March 22. Students who do not complete the form by the deadline will not be permitted to stay in MIT housing, according to the update.

The update writes that the form asks whether students plan to stay and for what reasons. Students “will also be asked to provide emergency contact information.”

Graduate students who move from on-campus housing by March 22 11:59 p.m. will be provided up to $1,000 in financial assistance. Barnhart, Nelson, and Waitz wrote that they would authorize reimbursement based on information submitted in the personal form. They also wrote that for students with “a higher need,” they “will work… to understand your needs and help address them.”

Students moving off campus will also be provided boxes and pick-up and storage services. The update also provides information on storage options and writes that the $1,000 in financial assistance “can help offset storage costs.”

Both graduate students returning and not returning in the fall may store their boxes through Piece by Piece Movers, according to the Division of Student Life’s website

For returning students, the Division of Student Life will “arrange with Piece by Piece” to have belongings brought back to campus in the fall. Students not returning to campus can arrange to pick up their belongings “at a time that’s convenient” for the student, “but no later than one month after the Institute returns to routine operations.”

Students leaving on-campus housing “will no longer be billed for their housing.” Based on their date of departure, they will also receive “a one-time pro-rated refund,” the update writes. 

The update also provided a flowchart with more specific housing information.

Graduate students who choose to stay on campus are asked to “abide by stringent social distancing practices” described in emergency housing policies updated Friday. Students are required to sign an agreement accepting the policies and “acknowledging the risks of remaining in on-campus emergency housing,” the email states.

The updated policies prohibit gatherings, encourage using the stairs instead of sharing an elevator, and restrict access to kitchens to one person at a time.

Graduate students can call the MIT Graduate Assistance Information Network (GAIN) at 844-MIT-GAIN for assistance or email housing policy questions to graduatehousing@mit.edu

Updated policies have been put in place for undergraduate emergency housing

Friday, March 20, 2:07 a.m. EDT

The Division of Student Life (DSL) has released new guidelines for social distancing in undergraduate emergency housing. Undergraduates on campus have been relocated to Baker, Maseeh, and McCormick.

No visitors or guests “from outside your residence hall are permitted in the residence at any time,” the guidelines state. Previously, only overnight visitors were banned. This includes visitors from other emergency housing residence halls and FSILGs.

In addition, residents in emergency housing “are prohibited from visiting FSILG premises until further notice,” according to the guidelines.

Residents are responsible for preventing visitors from tailgating or following them inside.

Exceptions may only be allowed for friends or family members helping students move off-campus. Exception requests can be sent to Don Camelio, associate dean for residential education, at dcamelio@mit.edu

In addition, all undergraduates have been “automatically enrolled in a no-cost bridge dining plan” which provides daily carry-out brunch from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and carry-out dinner from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. in all three residences. No more than ten students are permitted in the carry-out line at a time, in accordance with Massachusetts regulations, the guidelines state.

The guidelines write that “students can only access dining areas” in the building they are staying in. Graduate resident advisors, graduate students, and house team members in other residence halls can receive carry-out meals from Maseeh.

The guidelines also suspend all gatherings and close all common areas “such as multi-purpose rooms, seminar rooms, and small and large enclosed common spaces.” Residents are also not permitted to use hall kitchens.

Residents should also “use stairs rather than sharing an elevator with more than four passengers” and stand six feet away from other residents in the laundry room, the guidelines state. 

In addition, the guidelines do not allow any furniture to be moved into emergency housing or moved out of any room. The guidelines also prohibit alterations to rooms, including “painting of any wall, ceiling or floor surface,” “permanent or temporary attachments to the walls,” and “detachment from the walls of the shelves and other permanent room elements.” The guidelines state that the list of alterations is “non-exhaustive.”

No large items, such as televisions and monitors, plants, or aquariums, may be moved into emergency housing. The guidelines state that building staff “at their discretion” can “prohibit a resident from bringing an item into the dorm.”

Aside from “approved service and emotional support animals,” no animals of any kind are allowed into emergency housing, according to the guidelines. The guidelines also prohibit smoking, recommend against keeping perishable food in rooms, and ask that residents be attentive to “fire alarms, sprinkler heads, and other building infrastructure.”

Failure to comply with the guidelines could “result in a referral to the Committee on Discipline.” Additionally, the guidelines state that “interim disciplinary measures” which “include immediate removal from MIT housing” could also be taken.

Students experiencing flu-like symptoms should call MIT Medical’s COVID-19 hotline at 617-253-4865. Students can also receive support by contacting the MIT CARE Team at 617-324-2273 or emailing S3 at s3-support@mit.edu

MIT Federal Credit Union closed March 19

Friday, March 20, 2:07 a.m. EDT

MIT Federal Credit Union (MIT FCU) wrote on its website that it closed its branches March 19 “until further notice” due to COVID-19 and “to ensure the health and safety of our employees and members.” MIT FCU has also created a Pandemic Response page to address member support during the pandemic.

FCU branches that are closed include the Student Center branch, Lincoln Lab branch, and Tech Square branch. The Tech Square branch is available by appointment only Monday to Friday 10 a.m to 2 p.m “on a case by case basis,” writes MIT FCU’s website. Appointments can be scheduled by calling 617-253-2845.

Members will have access to “numerous surcharge free ATMS available in the area,” the website states. Locations of ATMs or shared branches can be found on the MIT FCU locator.

VTM hours are “unavailable at this time,” according to the Pandemic Response page. Online access to accounts will remain available at all times. 

Members will also have access to MIT FCU’s call center Monday to Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. MIT FCU writes on its Pandemic Response page that it is “also adding hours on Saturday and Sunday” March 21 and 22 from noon to 4 p.m. “to allow for followup on requests received outside of business hours.” In addition, “live after-hour” service is available from the call center “for questions on products and services.”

MIT FCU is also offering two options for financial support during COVID-19, a fee-free Skip-a-Pay program and an Emergency Fund Loan.

The Skip-a-Pay program allows an existing member of the credit union to skip a payment on a consumer loan “with no fee involved,” if they “are experiencing financial hardship due to COVID-19,” according to MIT FCU’s website. 

The Emergency Fund Loan offers a maximum loan amount of $5,000 as well as 0.0% APR for 60 days. The website states that if the loan “is not repaid in 60 days, balance will be applied to standard personal loan rate and terms.” Additionally, those applying for the loan must have FICO credit score 620 or above.

Requirements for both options include having no current delinquencies or negative deposit accounts and “verification that income has been negatively impacted,” writes the website. Members can apply for Skip-a-Pay and/or an Emergency Fund Loan by emailing loans-mitfcu@mit.edu.

MIT FCU also advises that members avoid “pandemic related scams.”

Questions and concerns can be directed to mitfcu@mit.edu or 617-253-2845.

International Scholars Office closed to walk-ins, no longer processing visas for non-faculty or non-instructional staff

Friday, March 20, 2:07 a.m. EDT

The International Scholars Office (ISchO) has closed walk-ins and will have staff “working remotely as much as possible,” according to a message to Department, Laboratory, and Center (DLC) human resources administrators from Penny Rosser, director of the ISchO.

Rosser wrote in her message that newly arrived scholars should contact IScho at ischo@mit.edu, and that “they will be provided with instructions to ‘register’ electronically.” She also wrote that ISchO will accept documents and packages “via interdepartmental mail, postal mail, Fedex and scans.”

The ISchO has posted a continuity and visa processing plan on its website, which states that arriving international scholars “will be invited to a ‘virtual’ orientation, which will still be conducted weekly” until “a web-based orientation module” is finalized. The plan states that ISchO advisors will hold appointments with scholars through electronic means, such as phone or skype.

The ISchO has also released an FAQ, which states that “ISchO will only process new visa requests for faculty and instructional staff” until further notice. The FAQ writes that other visa requests should not be submitted “until the bar on processing is lifted” and “should be held by DLCs.” Requests already received but not yet processed will also be held.

The ISchO’s continuity plan writes that its “number one priority” for visa requests is “to process extensions of stay and changes of status for current faculty, postdocs, lecturers, instructors, research scientists, and other international scholars already at MIT.”

Visiting scholars, scientists, and engineers to whom MIT has already issued documents and who have “an intention to enter the US within the next month or two” should be contacted by DLCs to “postpone their start dates indefinitely until further notice,” the plan writes.

In addition, the plan states that postdoc associates, fellows, and research fellows to whom MIT has already issued documents who have “an intention to enter the US soon” should be contacted by DLCs “as soon as possible” to inform them “whether or not to proceed with their plans to arrive at MIT.” Then, the DLCs must “inform ISchO of the determination” so that the ISchO “can amend visa documents to a later date, if necessary.”

According to the ISchO’s FAQ, “parties should take care not to set unrealistic expectations.” Due to the evolving public health situation, the ISchO can not “advise DLCs how far into the future invitations to MIT and visa requests should be postponed.

Rosser wrote that the ISchO will continue providing information “as it becomes available.”

Summer in-person K-12 programming canceled

Thursday, March 19, 9:33 p.m. EDT

MIT will not host or sponsor any in-person K-12 student programming this summer, according to today’s MIT Advisory.

The decision encompasses both on-campus programs and off-campus programs that allow MIT students, faculty, and staff to interact with K-12 students. 

“This guidance does not apply to programs working exclusively with adults in the K-12 sector” such as teacher training and professional development programs, the MIT Advisory states.

“Remote programming is allowed and encouraged: summer programs that wish to move to an online format should begin planning to do so as soon as possible,” the MIT Advisory states.

Changes made to on-campus cleaning and transportation services and construction activities

Thursday, March 19, 9:33 p.m. EDT

Facilities will remain available to campus during COVID-19, according to an update from the MIT Department of Facilities website. Facilities services will be provided “to support… students, faculty, researchers, and staff who continue to work, study, and live on campus,” according to the website.

“Crucial services will remain operational, including custodial, repair and maintenance, mail services, and utilities,” the website writes. All other staff are working remotely and will use “online meeting tools.”

The Operations Center will continue to monitor life safety and mechanical systems on campus such as heating and cooling systems and fire alarms. The site writes that team members “work 24/7 to ensure quick response to emergencies and to make sure that all critical systems are functioning.”

All custodial staff have received “enhanced training” for cleaning and disinfecting “touch points,” the site writes. Additionally, MIT has switched to a disinfecting cleaning solution, Morning Mist, which “meets the EPA criteria for use against” SARS-CoV-2.

Additional cleaning services can be requested through Atlas Service Request. Special decontamination procedures are only required for spaces occupied by individuals who are “suspected of having” or have tested positive for COVID-19.

Individuals dealing with offices suspected of COVID-19 contact should first reach out to MIT Medical before contacting Marty O’Brien, senior manager of campus services, at mobrien@mit.edu or 617-253-6728.

In addition to parking and public transportation information relating to the Atlas Service Center included in a previous update, the website states that beginning March 21, “several of the campus shuttle services will transition to reduced schedules.” 

The updated schedules affect the Tech shuttle, which will operate Monday to Friday 6:15 a.m. to 7:45 p.m., as well as both SafeRide fixed-route and on-demand shuttles. The fixed-route shuttles will run the Boston All and Cambridge All routes Sunday to Saturday 6 p.m. to 11 p.m., and the on-demand shuttles will operate Sunday to Wednesday 11 p.m. to 2:30 a.m. and Thursday to Saturday 11 p.m. to 3:30 a.m. Grocery shuttles will operate as usual.

As of March 19, Charles River TMA has not announced any changes to the EZ-ride shuttle, but the website “will post an update as information becomes available.”

Questions about shuttle services can be sent to shuttles@mit.edu or 617-253-1440.

The City of Cambridge instituted a temporary emergency construction moratorium yesterday to “mitigate the impact of COVID-19 and safeguard the health of construction workers.”

MIT will suspend construction activities Saturday “with the exception of emergency activities that have been approved by the City,” the MIT Facilities site writes. Permitting and inspection activities were suspended today, and MIT construction sites will be shut down by March 26.

“Note that this moratorium only affects the construction phase of these projects and that planning and design activities will continue,” the site writes.

The site writes that all mail services will remain operational, “assessing needs daily and adapting as Institute recommendations require,” but will change its campus box collection times from 5 p.m. to noon.

Mail Services will hold packages and materials for areas that are unavailable for deliveries, the site writes. “If space becomes an issue within Mail Services, we may attempt package deliveries to secure locations” within a department’s, lab’s, or center’s space.

Questions about mail services may be sent to O’Brien or Mike Fahie, manager of mail services, at mfahie@mit.edu.

Community members with questions or need assistance with facilities services should contact dof-csc@mit.edu or call 617-253-4948 Monday through Friday 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Update made to on-campus dining

Tuesday, March 17, 7:12 p.m. EDT

As of March 17, the “no-cost bridge dining plan” offered to undergraduates in emergency housing will only offer carry-out service “to align with Massachusetts public health requirements,” according to an Institute update

Graduate students who require assistance “obtaining adequate nutrition can receive some meal swipes through SwipeShare.”

Tuesday, March 17, 7:12 p.m. EDT

Undergraduates on financial aid “will see no reduction” in their aid due to “changes to campus life and operations,” according to an email from Vice President and Dean for Student Life Suzy Nelson, Vice Chancellor Ian Waitz, and Dean of Admissions and Student Financial Services Stu Schmill.

All undergraduate students leaving a residence hall or FSILG “will receive a refund for any housing or meal plan costs they paid for but will not use,” according to the email. An Institute FAQ on financial aid writes that the costs will be refunded on a “pro-rated basis.”

In addition, both graduate and undergraduate students will be reimbursed half of the spring semester student life fee ($85). 

Students can expect refunds “by early next week,” according to the email. Some students may receive more than one refund to their accounts, as individual refunds will be given “as soon as they are posted to the account” to “expedite students’ refunds.” For students who owe balances on their accounts, the email states that credit refunded will be applied toward the students’ balances.

The email writes that “no one will be asked to return the aid they have already received,” adding that students may “use the full amount of their forthcoming refunds for current or new expenses” or to “help offset the loss of paid opportunities such as UROPs.”

Nelson, Waitz, and Schmill also wrote that for undergraduates whose financial aid “expects them to work to contribute” to tuition, they will halve the amount students are expected to earn for the spring term and “increase their MIT Scholarship by an equal amount.” The increase ensures that these students will receive “the same financial benefit they anticipated without having to complete their term-time contribution requirements.”

The FAQ writes that there should be no effect on federal aid. It also states that MIT “has been in contact with the Department of Veteran affairs” about potential effects on students receiving GI Bill and expects “to receive guidance soon.”

Graduate students will “receive their normal compensation during this period of curtailed operations,” the email writes. Additional information about updates to Institute pay policies can be found at MIT Human Resources’ website

The email also provides information on financial assistance for students moving off-campus, stating that financial hardship grants related to relocating are being offered and that  “undergraduate and graduate students in need” will be provided WiFi hotspots and other computing equipment “free of charge.” 

Students with questions about financial aid or their bill can contact Student Financial Services at 617-258-8600 or email sfs@mit.edu.

MIT Medical releases new guidelines for potential COVID-19 exposure

Tuesday, March 17, 7:12 p.m. EDT

MIT Medical has released a new “how-to guide” on its website for individuals who have “been in close contact with someone” diagnosed with, tested for, or potentially exposed to COVID-19. The guide also explains social distancing, self-monitoring, self-quarantine, and general hygiene practices.

MIT Medical defines “close contact” as spending “a prolonged amount of time in the same room,” having “direct physical contact,” or sharing “eating or drinking utensils” with someone or if someone “sneezed, coughed, or somehow got respiratory secretions on” oneself.

For those who had close contact with an individual “who has tested positive for COVID-19” or “who is being tested,” MIT Medical instructs them to “self-quarantine and self-monitor.” One should “continue self-quarantining for the full 14 days” if the individual being tested tests positive but “may stop self-quarantining” if the test is negative, MIT Medical writes.

MIT Medical instructs people self-quarantining to not leave their room, apartment, or house for 14 days after exposure; avoid spending time in “common areas” or sharing bathrooms if possible; avoid sharing “eating utensils, drinking glasses, towels, or any other items”; wash their hands “frequently with soap and water, or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer after coughing and sneezing”; “never cough or sneeze in the direction of someone else”; and discard dirty tissues.

Individuals self-monitoring should take and record their temperature right after waking up and right before bed but not “within 30 minutes of eating, drinking, or exercising” or “within 6 hours of taking medications that could lower your temperature, like acetaminophen, ibuprofen, or aspirin,” MIT Medical writes. In addition, self-monitoring includes staying “alert for symptoms of COVID-19,” such as “a fever (temperature of 100.4°F or 38°C), a dry cough, or trouble breathing.”

Those experiencing symptoms are instructed to call their healthcare provider. MIT Medical also advises calling ahead and describing symptoms before going “to the emergency room, urgent care clinic, or your healthcare provider’s office,” so that the provider has the chance “to make preparations to protect staff and other patients.”

For those who had close contact with an individual “who might have been exposed,” no matter if the possibly-exposed individual shows any symptoms, MIT Medical instructs them to “self-monitor and practice social distancing.” 

For those who had close contact with an individual “who has been in close contact with someone else who might have been exposed,” MIT Medical only instructs them to “practice social distancing.”

MIT Medical encourages everyone to practice social distancing, which includes working from home and virtualizing or canceling in-person meetings if possible, staying “six feet away from the closest person” when outside one’s home, avoiding hugs and handshakes, and avoiding groups and crowds.

In addition, everyone should wash one’s hands “frequently with soap and water or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer,” avoid touching one’s face, “cover coughs and sneezes with the inside of your elbow or upper arm,” and “wipe down frequently touched surfaces with disinfectant,” MIT Medical writes.

Atlas Center ramps down in-person services

Tuesday, March 17, 7:12 p.m. EDT

The Atlas Service Center halted in-person services 6 p.m. today. Staff will continue to answer phone calls and monitor service requests. Limited staff will also continue to visit campus “to respond to urgent issues as required and permitted by the evolving Covid-19 situation.”

Sucharita Ghosh, manager of the Atlas Service Center, wrote to the MIT community today that Atlas “will adapt our plans and service delivery accordingly” as the COVID-19 situation evolves.

In-person I-9 verifications are “suspended until further notice,” Ghosh wrote. Employees and student workers should still complete the Section 1 of the I-9 form in MIT’s electronic online system. According to Ghosh, the “employee will be contacted by an I-9 staff member to come in and complete Section II of the form” once Atlas is open to in-person service again.

ID card requests should be emailed to atlascenter@mit.edu. “All requests will be fulfilled and cards will be mailed out to home addresses on a weekly basis,” Ghosh wrote.

Ghosh wrote that individuals with MIT IDs can park free of charge on the Cambridge campus as of last Friday until further notice. Community members with specific questions should email mitparking@mit.edu.

Employees will be mailed all MBTA commuter rail or LinkPasses “usually picked up at the Atlas Service Center or distributed via interoffice mail” at the address on record at MIT Human Resources, Ghosh wrote. 

Employees who have recently changed addresses should notify Commuter Program Administrator Robynn Cruz-Walker at rcruz@mit.edu.

MBTA passes for students staying on campus will be distributed through House Managers in coordination with Housing and Residential Services staff, Ghosh wrote. Passes “for students not on campus will be mailed to home addresses.” 

Students with questions about passes can contact Dennis Collins, director of capital renewal and renovation, at colins@mit.edu or 617-253-5145.

Ghosh wrote that MIT Information Services & Technology (IS&T) “is ramping down all in-person support,” with walk-in IT or repair services suspended until further notice, in addition to notary services and passport pictures.

“IS&T staff from the Atlas Service Center will shift to remote work, augmenting Service Desk support capabilities,” Ghosh wrote. Community members who have questions or need assistance can contact the IS&T Service Desk at 617-253-1101 or servicedesk@mit.edu.

TechCash, Dining Dollars, and meal plan inquiries should be sent to techcash@mit.edu.

Community members requesting information and guidance regarding background checks should contact Senior Administrative Assistant Andrea Finnin at andreaf@mit.edu.

Community members seeking tax treaty guidance should email Marsha Dailey, foreign national tax and senior payroll coordinator, at mdailey@mit.edu or NRATAX-payroll@mit.edu. More information can be found on the Vice President for Finance’s website.

Questions not covered above can be sent to atlascenter@mit.edu.

DSL bans visitors from graduate student housing

Tuesday, March 17, 7:12 p.m. EDT

The Division of Student Life (DSL) has released new guidelines for social distancing in graduate residence halls.

No visitors or guests “from outside your residence hall are permitted in the residence at any time,” the guidelines state. Previously, only overnight visitors were banned. Residents are responsible for preventing visitors from tailgating or following them inside.

Exceptions may be allowed for friends or family members helping graduate students move off-campus, as well as childcare or healthcare providers who “provide essential support for graduate students’ health or wellbeing” or “allow graduate students to continue their research or teaching duties.” Graduate exception requests should be sent to Naomi Carton, associate dean for graduate student support and residential education, at naomic@mit.edu.

Gatherings of more than four residence hall members in residences are prohibited. According to the guidelines, large common areas such as “multi-purpose rooms, seminar rooms, and large enclosed common spaces” will be closed. 

“No more than two students should use a shared kitchen at one time,” the guidelines state, adding that residents should practice social distancing “with frequent hand washing and exclusive use of utensils and cooking supplies.”

Residents should also “use stairs rather than sharing an elevator with more than four passengers” and stand six feet away from other residents in the laundry room, the guidelines state. 

In addition, the guidelines write that Institute-sponsored travel has been suspended and that MIT “is strongly discouraging non-essential” travel. The DSL is “offering this opportunity [for graduate students] to leave and suspend rent responsibility as an incentive for residents in graduate housing to leave now” because MIT is working to “de-densify the buildings and consolidation services,” the guidelines write.

If residents terminate housing “at a later date,” the termination will be processed under Housing and Residential Services’ standard policies, the guidelines state.

Failure to comply with the guidelines could “result in a referral to the Committee on Discipline.” Additionally, the guidelines state that “interim disciplinary measures” which “include immediate removal from MIT housing” could also be taken.

COOP closes until April 7

Tuesday, March 17, 4:15 p.m. EDT

The COOP announced in an email to its members and patrons today that all five of its locations will be closed from March 16 until a “planned re-opening” April 7. 

The decision to close the stores was made “based on the voiced concerns by employees, the increased closings in Harvard and Kendall Square and the latest pronouncements from the state of Massachusetts,” the COOP wrote. “This action is in the best interest of our employees, members and the general public.”

The COOP website will remain open to serve customers and “provide updates on the store re-opening,” according to the COOP’s email. The COOP has “suspended phone inquiries” and asks that customers contact via email, so that employees can work remotely “to ensure their safety.”

Because the situation is “evolving,” customers should check the COOP’s website for updated information.

Undergraduates with exemptions to relocate to dining residence halls

Monday, March 16, 4:00 p.m. EDT

Depending on the final numbers of undergraduates staying on campus, “all students who have been approved to stay will be placed into two (or perhaps one) dining residence halls,” David Friedrich, senior associate dean for housing and residential services, and Judy Robinson, senior associate dean for residential education, wrote in an email this afternoon to undergraduates remaining on campus.

Friedrich and Robinson wrote that placing undergraduates in fewer residences would allow Housing and Residential Services (HRS) to “better focus” its “limited staffing resources” on meeting exempted students’ housing, dining, and support needs and to “respond more effectively in the event there is a medical emergency on campus.”

Friedrich and Robinson wrote that HRS, MIT Medical, and MIT Emergency Management would be “implementing a plan to ensure residents in on-campus emergency housing move to single-room, spread-out settings.” 

Undergraduates will receive their building and room assignments, as well as “moving assistance resources,” Wednesday, Friedrich and Robinson wrote. HRS will begin helping students move Friday.

Undergraduates with exemptions who live in Fraternities, Sororities, and Independent Living Groups (FSILGs) are also being asked to move into on-campus dorm rooms, according to an update from the Association of Independent Living Groups (AILG).

MIT is allowing graduate students to remain in FSILGs, AILG wrote. This includes graduate resident advisors.

Akil Middleton ’08, chair of the AILG board of directors, and Pam Gannon ’84, director of FSILG alumni programs, wrote in an email to FSILG members that the move was motivated by the need for undergraduates “to be in a location that MIT can easily support, in particular for medical assistance and food services.”

AILG wrote that MIT has “plans to assist FSILGs with housebill reimbursements and physical security concerns during the low occupancy period.” Middleton and Gannon wrote that “MIT will reimburse actual house bills on a prorated basis” and “work with the house corporations and student leadership to determine how these disbursements are processed.” 

In addition, MIT “will likely contract with a security company” to assist FSILGs with security, Middleton and Gannon wrote.

“I understand this is a change from what you may have previously heard, but this is a consequence of the rapidly evolving situation,” Middleton and Gannon wrote.

According to an update from Chancellor Cynthia Barnhart PhD ’88, Vice President and Dean for Student Life Suzy Nelson, and Vice Chancellor Ian Waitz, “just over 400 undergraduates received approval to stay in on-campus emergency housing.” 

Barnhart, Nelson, and Waitz also wrote that they were “observing students changing their minds” about staying on campus and that the number of students in emergency housing “will be significantly lower than the initial number approved.”

Undergraduates remaining on campus have access to a “no-cost bridge dining plan,” which includes brunch and dinner seven days a week in Maseeh and Baker dining halls. Friedrich and Robinson wrote in their email that undergraduates will be informed if this plan is adjusted due to “the rapidly changing guidance from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.”

MIT Medical releases pandemic plan

Sunday, March 15, 10:06 p.m. EDT

Starting Tuesday, MIT Medical “will temporarily convert [its] facilities into clinics that prioritize essential services for children and adults and urgent student mental health and counseling services.”

MIT Medical Director Cecelia Stuopis ’90 wrote on the MIT Medical website that its response would double the number of same-day visits MIT Medical can provide, “something our community will need as the number of COVID-19 cases in the Boston area increases.”

Stuopis wrote that due to the limited availability of COVID-19 tests, “MIT Medical can only test individuals who meet specific clinical criteria for testing after other infections, such as influenza, have been ruled out.”

MIT Medical will switch from its current Urgent Care and Student Mental Health & Counseling Services walk-in system to a “call-first” model, Stuopis wrote. The call-first system will enable up to 150 open visits a day. Patients will need to call to schedule an appointment, including for Urgent Care and Student Mental Health & Counseling Services.

Essential care includes “pediatric immunizations, ongoing allergy shots, behavioral health medication management, and prenatal exams,” Stuopis wrote.

Stuopis wrote that patients who need to schedule an appointment should contact MIT Medical to be informed of whether they need to be seen in person. The Dental Service, Eye Service, and Sports Medicine and Orthopedics Service will still be available for emergency appointments.

Patients with appointments that are not considered “essential care” will be asked to cancel the appointments and reschedule once MIT Medical resumes “normal operations,” Stuopis wrote.

MIT Medical’s Cambridge location will also tighten its operating hours to 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., according to Stuopis. Currently, Urgent Care is open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Radiology, Laboratory, and Pharmacy will open on weekends to support Urgent Care, and patients can call the 24-hour number 617-253-4481 for medical advice after-hours.

MIT Medical is planning to virtualize “visits for Student Mental Health & Counseling Services, Primary Care, and, potentially, some specialty services,” Stuopis wrote. In addition, MIT Medical is working to launch virtual Community Wellness classes.

Stuopis wrote that the changes would prevent healthy people “who would otherwise be here for things like eye exams, teeth cleanings, or routine physicals” from “coming into contact with ill patients.” The measures would keep staff healthy by decreasing the density of individuals in the building.

Additionally, the changes would enable MIT Medical to “take care of students, faculty, staff, and retirees, keeping them from needing to go to outside medical systems that may be overwhelmed with COVID-19,” Stuopis wrote.

MIT Medical also added guidance for “campus managers/employees who are aware of a person with exposure/possible exposure to an individual with confirmed COVID-19.” 

The guide advises to first speak with the individual either in person or by phone and ask for a description of the situation as well as “the individual’s full name, phone number, and the town they live in.” Then, tell the individual to go or stay home and that “a clinician from MIT Medical will call them shortly to discuss their exposure.” 

Second, instruct the individual to call their primary care provider’s office, and if that is at MIT Medical, to call the COVID-19 phone line at 617-253-4865. 

Third, call the MIT Medical COVID-19 phone line and request a “Public Health Consultation.”

Lastly, do not disclose the issue to others until after advice is received regarding the public health risks of the situation. 

The guide emphasizes concern and empathy and the individual’s right to privacy.

“We ask the entire MIT community to do everything possible to limit the spread of COVID-19,” Stuopis wrote. MIT Medical continues to urge community members to wash hands frequently, avoid touching their face, not share food or beverages, and practice social distancing.

Community members with questions about the planned changes can email medical@mit.edu.

Stratton Student Center and CAC to close 3 p.m. Monday

Sunday, March 15, 10:06 p.m. EDT

The Stratton Student Center, the Religious Life Center, the MIT Chapel, Walker Memorial, and Kresge Auditorium will open 7 a.m. Monday “with reduced services.” They will “close and remain closed” after 3 p.m. Monday, according to today’s MIT Advisory.

Signs at the entrances and inside these buildings will announce that the building is closing at 3 p.m. and “encourage people to maintain social distancing and hygiene practices,” the MIT Advisory writes.

“Staff with offices in W20 will have short-term access [to] their workspace while they solidify plans to work remotely,” the MIT Advisory writes. 

Deep cleaning of the buildings, including bathrooms and elevators, will continue after they close.

“Further conversations are happening with W20's vendors, banks, and the US Post Office to determine next steps,” the MIT Advisory writes.

In response to the closing of religious services, the Office of Religious, Spiritual, and Ethical Life (ORSEL) will hold “ten minutes of quiet reflection” open to the MIT community and the general public via Zoom at 2:50 p.m. EDT daily in an initiative called MIT@2:50. The initiative was organized because “ongoing stress can lower immune response” and “social distancing can cause feelings of isolation,” the MIT@2:50 website writes.

DSL releases dining information for undergraduates remaining on campus

Sunday, March 15, 10:06 p.m. EDT

Starting Monday, there will be a “no-cost bridge dining plan” for undergraduates remaining on campus. The plan includes brunch and dinner seven days a week in Maseeh and Baker dining halls, according to today’s MIT Advisory.

“The goal is to serve 50 people in each hall at a time, eventually decreasing to 25 per hall to promote social distancing,” the MIT Advisory writes.

TechMart will move from Walker Memorial to Maseeh’s Flowers Dining Room by Thursday, the MIT Advisory writes.

Chancellor Cynthia Barnhart PhD ’88, Vice President and Dean for Student Life Suzy Nelson, and Vice Chancellor Ian Waitz originally wrote in an email to all MIT students March 11 that TechMart would be moved to the Coffeehouse Lounge on the third floor of Stratton Student Center. However, now, the student center will “close and remain closed” after 3 p.m. Monday, according to the MIT Advisory.

“Any meal plan holder may eat in any dining hall free of cost until the end of the day today,” the MIT Advisory writes. Meal plan holders will receive “a refund of their prorated spring meal plan cost” after meal plans end Sunday.

Bon Appetit will make “staffing adjustments” in response to these changes, the MIT Advisory writes. As of press time, MIT’s Human Resources representatives have not responded to The Tech’s request for comment on how staffs’ job security or compensation will be affected. 

DAPER indoor facilities to close 3 p.m. Monday

Sunday, March 15, 10:06 p.m. EDT

The Department of Athletics, Physical Education, and Recreation (DAPER) will close its indoor facilities after 3 p.m. Monday. Indoor facilities will be open from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday. DAPER outdoor facilities will remain “open and accessible” after Monday, according to today’s MIT Advisory.

Indoor facilities that will close include Dupont Gym, Rockwell Cage, the Johnson Athletic Center, the Z Center, the Alumni Pool and Wang Fitness Center, and the Sailing Pavilion.

Outdoor facilities that will remain open include the Outdoor Tennis Complex and the Morrison Track and Roberts Field.

Non-student DAPER memberships will be put on hold during the closure. All members should “collect their belongings from their lockers” before 3 p.m. Monday if possible.

“Members who were billed on March 1 will be credited appropriately on their next payment. Members typically billed on March 15 will not be charged until operations resume,” the MIT Advisory writes.

Additionally, all group fitness classes are cancelled starting Monday. Daily and monthly passes will be discontinued. Individuals with 6- and 12-month memberships will be refunded for their membership and locker fees.

“Staff with offices inside the facilities will be able to access their workspace in the short-term while they solidify their plans to work remotely from campus,” the MIT Advisory writes.

Deep cleaning of the facilities, including bathrooms and elevators, will continue after the closure.

MIT and the Health Fitness Corporation are working to determine “staffing adjustments” in response to these changes, the MIT Advisory writes. As of press time, MIT’s Human Resources representatives have not responded to The Tech’s request for comment on how staffs’ job security or compensation will be affected. 

All DAPER students will have free access to the virtual fitness platform Wellbeats until April 30, according to the Division of Student Life website. Instructions for signing up are available at this link

The platform offers over 500 fitness videos and 30 channels “for every age, interest, and ability,” according to the sign up flyer. The platform, which is “safe and education based,” also offers fitness assessments and “highly certified, relatable instructors.”

Housing move-out exception statistics released

Sunday, March 15, 10:06 p.m. EDT

The COVID-19 Exception Review Team has finished reviewing “roughly 700 submissions” from undergraduates. Of these, “over 400” were approved to stay in emergency on-campus housing and 30 were denied. Additionally, “about 260” students who submitted requests left campus. 

The submissions included requests for exceptions to remain in on-campus housing and financial assistance in moving out, Chancellor Cynthia Barnhart PhD ’88, Vice President and Dean for Student Life Suzy Nelson, and Vice Chancellor Ian Waitz wrote in an email to the MIT community this evening.

Of the students who submitted requests and left campus, many received financial assistance “in addition to the substantial moving and travel reimbursements we are offering all undergraduate students who relocate off campus,” the email wrote.

The students denied approval did not meet the established exception criteria, the email wrote.

An appeals process was put into place for emergency housing applications that were not approved, the email wrote. Only a “small number” of appeals were submitted; the “vast majority” of appeals included additional information that met the exception criteria and were subsequently approved.

The deadline for appeals was 9 p.m. yesterday, according to the FAQs for the exception request process. 

Students granted on-campus emergency housing were asked to electronically sign an agreement. Students in residence halls for fraternities, sororities, or independent living groups may be relocated to “another residence hall on campus to lower the density of students” and to “consolidate security, food service, and staff support,” the FAQ wrote. 

Students were also asked to provide an emergency contact who would be notified of the student’s decision to stay on campus.

The agreement also included rules that limit gatherings to “no more than 2-4 students who are also living in on-campus emergency housing” and forbid students from hosting guests “other than students who are also living in on-campus emergency housing.”

The agreement states that failure to comply with its rules “may result in a referral to the Committee on Discipline for disciplinary action,” in addition to possible immediate removal from MIT housing.

“We will continue to monitor the situation closely and may need to make additional adjustments or impose additional conditions as we learn more,” the agreement wrote.

According to the agreement, in-person services from S3 and Student Mental Health and Counseling Services as well as the ability for staff and heads of house to support students will be “limited.”

Barnhart, Nelson, and Waitz wrote that the review team based their decisions on the “interconnected principles of showing compassion for students and meeting our responsibility to limit the spread of the virus by limiting the number of people living in confined, shared spaces.”

The FAQ wrote that each case was “painstakingly” reviewed by staff members. Senior staff also conducted a second review of some “particularly complex cases.”

The review team was composed of professionals with “extensive experience in supporting students and crisis management” from the Division of Student Life, the Office of the Vice Chancellor, and MIT Information & Systems Technology, the email wrote. 

The FAQ added that the appeals process was shaped by “the faculty chair of the Committee on Student Life, a Head of House representative to the Student and Residential Life Emergency Preparedness Working Group, and an Undergraduate Association officer.” Barnhart reviewed each appeal.

The submission process opened Wednesday. Within hours, students began receiving responses. Many believed that students who should have received exemptions were denied, leading to a protest in Lobby 10 Thursday. At the time, the team had received “just over 600” requests and reviewed “about half of them.” 156 were approved and 150 were either being “actively discussed with the student” or denied, Barnhart, Nelzon, and Waitz wrote in an email to faculty and staff. 

Emergency Academic Regulations released

Sunday, March 15, 10:06 p.m. EDT

Chair of the Faculty Rick Danheiser released MIT's emergency academic regulations in an email to all students this afternoon. Alternate grades of PE, NE, and IE will be mandatory for all full-term and H4 subjects, with no opt-out option.

A team of faculty and administrators made the decision to adopt mandatory emergency grading Thursday after consulting the UA and GSC, Danheiser wrote. A “Significant Disruption” was declared at MIT effective 8 a.m. Friday, and the emergency academic regulations were developed in accordance with Section 2.64 of the Rules and Regulations of the Faculty.

Undergraduates were informed of the grading decision in an email from UA vice president Charlotte Minsky ’20 Friday.

Danheiser wrote that the emergency academic regulations team unanimously decided to make alternate grades mandatory for all subjects after “extensive deliberation” and “important input from Student Support and Wellbeing.”

“Alternate grades will be regarded as acceptable for all purposes including degree requirements that normally require a letter grade,” Danheiser wrote.

Danheiser acknowledged that many students were “were dismayed” and appealed to the team to reconsider the mandatory alternate grades after Friday’s announcement. Student concerns included how not having letter grades may “adversely impact their applications for graduate school, medical school, internships, and other positions outside MIT,” Danheiser wrote.

“It is our very strong view that having alternate grades this semester will not negatively affect applications for jobs and admission to programs outside MIT,” Danheiser wrote. 

The team also considered allowing instructors to choose between normal and alternate grades on a subject-by-subject basis or allowing students to opt in to regular grading. 

These options were rejected because instructors might be “unable to make the usual distinction between A-level, B-level, and C-level work due to the disruption,” Danheiser wrote. Few instructors “have experience with the evaluation of a student’s mastery of material via remote means,” so “assigning accurate letter grades will not be possible” for most classes.

Furthermore, students will experience “different situations at home,” making it “very challenging” for some students to “focus on studying.” It may also be difficult for students to form remote study groups, and “the impact of this on different students is likely to vary considerably,” Danheiser wrote.

Danheiser added that if an opt-in option were available, students might feel “pressured” to opt into letter grades because “not doing so would be interpreted to mean that their performance was not strong.” 

Instructors of Quarter 3 classes may choose to assign regular letter grades according to student work up to Friday or use alternate grading if they “believe that they have insufficient information to allow discrimination between A, B, C-level etc. work in the six completed weeks of the class.” Quarter 4 half-term classes “will be presented according to the normal schedule” and must use alternate grading, Danheiser wrote.

Other changes involve the synchronicity of classes, rescheduling of course assignments, and exam logistics.

Starting March 30, real-time (synchronous) class sessions are “expected to begin at the same time and end no later than” normally scheduled. Instructors are also “strongly encouraged” to use an “asynchronous online format” such as posted lecture videos so that students living in different time zones have access to the material, Danheiser wrote.

Due to the cancellation of a week of classes, there will be only 13 weeks of instruction this semester instead of the usual 14. “The curriculum of each subject must be reduced accordingly,” Danheiser wrote. All instructors are required to give students “the schedule for the remaining assignments and any changes in the required work and procedures that will be used to determine grades” by 5 p.m. April 3. 

All final exams will be conducted remotely according to the original schedule. Individual instructors will choose between open book and closed book formats. The format “must be announced and expectations must be clearly stated no later than drop date (April 21),” Danheiser wrote. Additionally, thesis defenses may be scheduled remotely, and theses may be submitted electronically.

Instructors who believe it is infeasible to “develop an online version of the remainder of a subject” can petition the Chair of the Faculty to cancel a H4 subject or terminate a full-term subject early at facultychair-reply@mit.edu.

MIT sets up remote teaching resources

Sunday, March 15, 12:16 a.m. EDT

MIT has obtained a license for Zoom, a site the Institute plans to use for virtual instruction. 

Mark Silis, vice president for information systems and technology (IS&T), wrote in an email to MIT’s IT Partners that “IS&T has secured an enterprise license for Zoom” that will be available to all faculty, students, staff, and “affiliates engaged in or supporting MIT’s teaching and learning activities.”

Zoom is a video and audio conferencing platform that allows users to hold online meetings and use screen sharing to show presentations.

MIT’s license allows faculty and staff to conduct meetings of up to 500 participants. The license also permits other community members to conduct meetings of up to 300 participants.

“Zoom offers a strong capability to record and store video content that should be incredibly helpful during this challenging transition,” Silis wrote.

MIT community members can access Zoom at mit.zoom.us. Touchstone authentication is required. 

IS&T, MIT Teaching and Learning Lab, and MIT Open Learning will continue to develop resources for faculty and instructors at the Instructional Continuity site

The site includes remote teaching best practices, including guidelines for lectures, labs, design and project-based classes, assignments, exams, and grading. The site also contains support resources and tutorials for Stellar, LMOD, WebEx, Zoom, and other data storage and collaboration tools.

The site recommends that instructors post announcements on the class homepage or email students via Stellar or LMOD. “Office Hours can be held virtually using tools such as WebEx, Zoom, or other video conferencing software. Other messaging platforms, such as Slack, can also aid communications” with students, the site writes.

For design and project-based subjects, the site writes that instructors can ask students to “scale down their projects so that they can be worked on at home” because students will not have access to labs or makerspaces. 

“For example, instead of 3D printing parts, [students] may end up using cardboard or whatever materials they have on hand in their living spaces,” the site writes. Classes may also “shift to a paper- or CAD-based project.”

For lab classes, the site recommends that instructors “consider the learning goals of the lab and if any of them can be met through other means,” such as online simulations or video demonstrations. 

The site suggests resources including textbook publishers, Merlot Virtual Labs, Phet Interactive Simulations, the American Chemical Society’s list of Virtual Chemistry and Simulations, the University of Colorado’s LearnChemE website, and MIT Mathlets for materials to substitute for aspects of lab instruction.

The site recommends that instructors use Stellar’s Homework feature, LMOD’s Gradebook module, and Gradescope for homework assignments and take-home exams. The site also suggests emailing written assignments directly to instructors for grading in smaller classes.

The site does not currently address timed exams. The Final Exams section of the best practices “will be updated within the next few days,” the site wrote on Tuesday.

The site recommends that instructors “make classroom activities more active” by “having students write and comment together on a shared Google Doc” and “using Poll Everywhere, Google Forms, Socrative or other online classroom response systems” to collect and share student responses.

MIT Open Learning has also created a public site for MIT community members to share resources for remote teaching at open.mit.edu/c/teachremote

“IS&T is working diligently to provide the IT capabilities essential for MIT to conduct its mission and operations at this time,” Silis wrote. Silis added that bringing Zoom to the entire MIT community within only a few days would “not have been possible” without the help of Sloan Technology Services.

Silis also recommended that instructors use Zoom’s Getting Started page, the Sloan Guide to Teaching with Zoom and Canvas, and the Zoom landing page in the MIT Knowledge Base.

Additionally, the virtual cognitive behavioral therapy provider iHope Network is working with MIT Medical’s Student Mental Health and Counseling Services to develop Managing Stress around COVID-19, a free confidential support group for MIT students. The support group is available via video conferencing Mondays 10–11 a.m. and Thursdays 6–7 p.m.

The support group is led by Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker Rachel Ganz and Student Mental Health and Counseling Services psychologist Xiaolu Hsi. Students can send questions about the support group to info@ihopenetwork.com or call 800-225-0634. 

Starting March 30, all MIT classes will be held online.

IS&T offers 24/7 support for Zoom. Instructors experiencing difficulties with remote teaching can email teachremote@mit.edu or call 617-324-3578. MIT community members can send questions to the IS&T help desk at ist.mit.edu/help.

MIT suspends all campus research, save for a limited number of critical activities

Saturday, March 14, 10:02 p.m. EDT

MIT will ramp down campus research except for a “limited number of critical activities, including the important work to understand and stop the spread of COVID-19” by next Friday.

Provost Martin Schmidt PhD ’88, Vice President for Research Maria Zuber, and Acting Deputy Executive Vice President Anthony Sharon wrote in an email to the MIT community this evening that principal investigators are required to submit contingency plans for ongoing research by the close of business Monday. These plans are to be put into action no later than Friday. 

The ramp-down checklist can be found on MIT’s Research Continuities Guidance for Laboratories and Research Facilities website.

Schmidt, Zuber, and Sharon wrote that they will be “engaging campus research leaders in the next 24 hours regarding the development of contingency plans.” The three will share further guidance on plan development tomorrow.

According to the email, MIT staff and graduate students will continue to receive their normal compensation.

In-person meetings are “strongly discouraged for the foreseeable future,” Schmidt, Zuber, and Sharon wrote. They added that researchers working with human subjects must cease work requiring in-person human subject interactions and rely on existing data.

Schmidt, Zuber, and Sharon also encouraged on-campus researchers to practice social distancing and reduce the number of people working in labs and offices.

MIT’s response parallels those of peer institutions, including the Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Harvard Medical School, the Ragon, Wyss and Broad Institutes, and the Dana Farber Cancer Institute. According to the email, these peer institutes will ramp down all but critical research by the middle of next week.

Community members can send questions or suggestions to research-continuity@mit.edu.

MIT to enact PE/NE/IE grading 

Saturday, March 14, 10:02 p.m. EDT

MIT will enact the “alternate grades” of PE, NE, and IE for “all undergraduate and graduate full-term and Quarter 4 subjects this semester,” per an excerpt from MIT’s recently developed emergency academic regulations. 

“For Quarter 3 subjects, instructors will decide whether to use letter or alternate grades,” according to the excerpt.

This excerpt was included in an email from Undergraduate Association (UA) Vice President Charlotte Minsky ’20 to all undergraduates Friday.

According to Section 2.64 of the Rules and Regulations of the Faculty, PE indicates an A, B, or C level performance; NE indicates a D or F level performance “for which no record will appear on the external transcript”; and IE indicates an “incomplete” subject for which “a portion of the subject requirements has not been fulfilled, due to a major disruption of the Institute’s academic activities.”

The decision to implement alternate grades was made “in view of the global pandemic [and] its effect on our students, faculty, and all the members of our community who support our educational program,” Chair of the Faculty Rick Danheiser told the UA.

“An extended closure of the Institute or suspension of classes” due to “pandemic illness” is listed as an example of a Significant Disruption under section 2.102 of the Rules and Regulations of the Faculty. 

According to the MIT Faculty Governance website, the Rules and Regulations of the Faculty specify “the roles and responsibilities of the Standing Committees of the MIT Faculty, governs its legislative processes, and states its regulations” with respect to institutional processes including grades. 

Faculty officers and the COVID-19 Academic Continuity Working Group began working on the Emergency Academic Regulations Monday. Danheiser told the UA that the regulations were “finalized at meetings” Thursday, and he expected “to send out details by the end of the day Friday.”

However, no further information about the academic policy has been released. 

Before Minsky’s email, 1,704 people signed a petition to allow students to opt into PE and NE grading standards.

UA officer Danielle Geathers ’22 wrote in an email to The Tech that Danheiser “solicited feedback” from UA officers about “students’ opinions on different grading policy options.” UA officers “strongly recommended” to Danheiser that MIT “adopt a more relaxed grading policy.”

According to Geathers, the officers told Danheiser that the “next few months will continually be a period of flux and stress for students, particularly for those students from low-income and minority backgrounds” because of MIT’s decision to move undergraduates off-campus and “other responses to COVID-19 at the national scale.” 

“Faculty are working around the clock to avoid placing additional stress on students,” Minsky wrote.

It is unclear whether students can opt out of the alternate grading system to receive regular letter grades. 

Physics department head Peter Fisher wrote on his website that he has “been contacted by many students asking if they can have grades or hidden grades.” This is “a problem for next week,” Fisher wrote.

Some students have expressed concern that the lack of letter grades may negatively affect students who achieve high academic performance this semester, especially those who plan to apply to graduate programs. 

If students cannot opt-out of the alternate grading system, this “decreases the potential for some students to be able to showcase their academic strengths during a semester that they are taking many industry or graduate-school relevant courses,” a student wrote on 6.AcAd (the EECS Piazza forum) yesterday.

EECS professor Leslie Kaelbling wrote on 6.AcAd that graduate admissions committees “will understand that this semester was an anomaly,” adding that “grades don't matter hugely for graduate applications.”

EECS undergraduate officer Katrina LaCurts PhD ’14 wrote on 6.AcAd that the EECS Masters of Engineering (MEng) admissions process will take into account that “this semester is an anomaly.” 

“We know that, if emergency grades are enacted, some of you won't be able to increase your GPA to where you want it. We will figure out a way forward regardless,” LaCurts wrote. Currently, EECS undergraduates must have a technical GPA of 4.25 and an overall GPA of 4.0 to be eligible for the MEng program.

Math department academic administrator Barbara Peskin PhD ’80 wrote on 18.MMFORUM (the math department Piazza forum) that “the emergency grading is an official recognition from MIT that [this semester’s] grades shouldn’t be considered significant” by graduate admissions committees.

“I’m confident that admissions committees won’t ask for grade information beyond what’s on the transcript,” Peskin wrote.

Undergraduates with questions about MIT’s COVID-19 response can fill out an online form provided by the UA.

MIT Medical confirms MIT student contact with Tufts student who tested positive

Friday, March 13, 4:02 p.m. EDT

MIT Medical confirmed today that two MIT students were in contact with a Tufts University student who tested positive for COVID-19. 

The two MIT students were in contact with the Tufts student Sunday. The Tufts student became symptomatic Tuesday and tested positive for COVID-19 Thursday.

The Medford Department of Public Health determined that the Tufts student did not enter any MIT living spaces. Both MIT students have been asked to self-quarantine, and neither student has experienced any symptoms.

“If you are not contacted by the Department of Public Health, you are not presumed to be at immediate risk,” MIT Medical wrote on its COVID-19 updates website.

“Whatever the reason, what self-quarantining really means is that this individual or family has chosen to do the right thing for our community by limiting their exposure to others,” MIT Medical wrote.

If community members are concerned about symptoms including coughing, difficulty breathing, or fever, MIT Medical advises contacting a personal health care provider at the earliest opportunity. An MIT Medical clinician may also be reached at the COVID-19 hotline 617-253-4865.

Undergraduates provided with free pick-up and storage of belongings

Friday, March 13, 4:02 p.m. EDT

To help undergraduates accelerate their move-out, MIT is offering free pick-up and storage of their belongings from Piece by Piece Movers.

David Friedrich, senior associate dean for housing and residential services, wrote in an email to all undergraduates this afternoon that students can order pick-up and storage at www.storagemit.com. The email includes the credit card number, expiration date, and security code that students should use at check-out. 

Students utilizing this resource should follow the packing, labeling, and drop-off instructions in the email. Students are advised to write their name, email, and phone number on all boxes “for extra security,” Friedrich wrote.

CDC expands Level 3 travel health notice to most of Europe

Friday, March 13, 4:02 p.m. EDT

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has expanded its Level 3 travel health notice, indicating widespread sustaining (ongoing) spread, to most of Europe. China, Iran, and South Korea remain on the list of Level 3 countries. Individuals returning to campus from these countries should fill out MIT’s travel registration form and self-quarantine for 14 days upon return.

MIT pushes undergrads to accelerate move out timeline

Friday, March 13, 12:28 a.m. EDT

MIT is “strongly advising all undergraduate students to accelerate their move out plans,” according to an MIT Alert sent at around 10:45 p.m. today. All classes Friday are cancelled. 

Undergraduate students who move out by the end of Sunday will be provided with free storage (if they are returning in the fall) and reimbursed up to $500 for “travel change expenses and new reservation costs,” according to additional information published on the Division of Student Life’s website. 

“With the declaration of a state of emergency by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the doubling of Covid-19 cases in the Greater Boston area, the Institute is increasingly concerned for the safety of the community and is therefore taking extraordinary steps,” the alert said. 

Charlie Baker, governor of Massachusetts, declared a state of emergency Tuesday, shortly before President L. Rafael Reif informed undergraduate students that they would be required to move out by March 17.

Editor's note: Kristina Chen, Kerri Lu, Jessica Shi, Edwin Song, Wenbo Wu, and Whitney Zhang have contributed to the reporting and writing of these updates.