Undergraduates returning to campus during fall to participate in mandatory Quarantine Week

First week of classes from Sept. 1–7 to be conducted remotely

Undergraduate students living on campus during the fall term will participate in a mandatory Quarantine Week (Q-Week) Aug. 29–Sept. 7, Chancellor Cindy Barnhart PhD ’88, Vice Chancellor Ian Waitz, and Vice President and Dean for Student Life Suzy Nelson announced in an email to students Aug. 19. 

During Q-Week, students “cannot have direct contact with anyone else, including prospective podmates,” and may only leave their rooms to “use their assigned bathroom,” “get packages or meals,” or exercise outdoors, Barnhart, Waitz, and Nelson wrote. They added that they “strongly recommend limiting outdoor exercise to an hour each day.” 

Students should “minimize all non-essential activities and stay on MIT’s campus,” maintain at least six feet of physical distance, and wear a face covering in public spaces. 

Students must also take a COVID-19 test at MIT Medical and complete a Massachusetts Travel Form before checking into their residence halls Aug. 29–30. After five to seven days, students must take a second test and have both test results come back negative to “leave self-quarantine.” The first week of classes from Sept. 1–7 will be conducted remotely.

During Q-Week, students can “apply to form a pod with up to five other students” living in the same residence hall. Within each approved pod, students can “relax a little more in each other’s private rooms or designated reserved common spaces” without maintaining six feet of physical distance or wearing face coverings. 

Students living on campus will be tested twice weekly and will view their testing status, completing daily health attestations on the COVID Pass app. Visitors are not permitted in residence halls, and students are discouraged from “visiting with friends living off campus.” Additionally, students living off-campus “must adhere to the safety and health protocols required by the city and state where you live” and should not “throw parties or organize gatherings,” Barnhart, Waitz, and Nelson wrote.

Students with an MIT ID and a valid COVID Pass can be “granted access to a limited number of non-residential campus buildings” based on “academic or research needs.” Students must complete their daily health attestation within 30 minutes prior to entering the building.

Administrators “will strictly enforce the testing and health attestation rules, and additional staff will be visible in the residence halls to help educate and remind residents about Covid-19 policies and assist house teams with compliance.” Students who violate MIT policies may be “restricted from campus facilities, removed from MIT housing, or referred to the Committee on Discipline, possibly leading to a suspension or loss of access to campus in future semesters.” 

Several universities, including Princeton, Columbia, and Caltech, have changed their reopening plans to a fully remote semester for undergraduates. Barnhart, Waitz, and Nelson wrote that “MIT’s decision to stick with our reopening plan… is grounded in our trust that MIT students will rise to the challenge.”