Graduate students to start returning to campus

Returning students are to self-quarantine up to 14 days or take two COVID-19 tests

Chancellor Cynthia Barnhart PhD ’88, Vice President for Research Maria Zuber, Vice President and Dean for Student Life Suzy Nelson, and Associate Provost Krystyn Van Vliet PhD ’02 outlined graduate students’ return to campus in an email to graduate students May 20. 

They wrote that the Division of Student Life (DSL) plans to reduce graduate student residences to 85% density in the upcoming academic year. Based on input from MIT Medical and “other experts,” the DSL “reviewed the varied living environments of graduate student residence halls and devised scenarios with low student-to-bathroom and kitchen ratios in order to reduce the risk of community spread of COVID-19.” 

Graduate students who have already renewed their housing for the upcoming academic year will not be affected by the density reduction, they wrote.

The DSL website writes that the graduate student return plan consists of three stages:

  1. Students in private apartments like family housing, one-bedroom, and efficiency units can return immediately after completing an online form. Graduate Resident Advisors may also coordinate with their Heads of House and Associate Dean for Residential Education Don Camelio to discuss returns.

  2. Students in shared apartments may return to residences June 15 and must also complete the online form.

  3. Students in dormitory-style housing with shared floor kitchens and bathrooms may return at a date expected to be announced after stage two is launched.

Upon return, graduate students are expected to self-quarantine for up to 14 days or take two COVID-19 tests, one upon arrival and the other one week later. Students must remain quarantined until a second negative test is confirmed. Students who live in higher-density housing may be required to find alternative on-campus housing.

Returning students must also follow all COVID-19 emergency housing policies, including maintaining physical distancing practices and wearing face coverings.

Graduate students who are eligible to register for summer or fall 2020 and remain in housing beyond July 31 due to renewed housing licenses or on-campus housing assignment for the upcoming academic year may return to campus.

Those who fail to meet the minimum criteria to return can request an exemption to return through an online form.

The email also wrote that the Research Ramp-Up Lightning Committee has launched its building access pilot May 18 for Buildings 68, 76, and E17 to gradually increase the number of people allowed to return to lab research. Participation in the pilot is voluntary. 

Zuber wrote in a letter to the MIT community May 15 that returning researchers are expected to practice physical distancing, wash hands frequently, and wear face coverings. The committee hopes to learn “what is needed to implement a single-point-of-entry protocol for buildings as part of the phased ramp-up of campus,” Zuber wrote.