MIT sees ‘uptick’ in COVID cases

First-year Sloan MBA classes suspend in-person instruction

MIT is seeing a “troubling uptick” in COVID-19 cases, MIT Medical Director Cecilia Stuopis ’90 wrote in an email to the MIT community Nov. 10. “In the first nine days of November, we have identified 45 positive cases through our Covid Pass screening program. By contrast, we had just 30 cases in all of September and 46 in all of October.” 

Stuopis wrote that several of the cases were “concentrated among” students at the Sloan School of Management and appear to be the “result of exposure away from campus, and do not reflect spread from person to person on campus.” 

According to the COVID Pass website, 36 MIT community members have tested positive for COVID-19 in the past week. In comparison, the City of Cambridge has reported about 92 new cases in the past week. Additionally, 59 MIT community members are currently in isolation after testing positive and 68 are in quarantine after being in close contact with an individual who tested positive.

Sloan has suspended in-person instruction for its first-year MBA classes from Nov. 5 to Thanksgiving break. All MIT classes will be fully virtual after Thanksgiving break until the end of the semester, as announced in July. 

Additionally, first-year Sloan students are required to be tested for COVID-19 every other day Nov. 5–13. All other MIT students taking in-person classes or frequently accessing campus are tested twice weekly.

David Schmittlein, dean of the Sloan School of Management, wrote in an email to Sloan students Nov. 5 that the decision resulted from the “marked increase in the number of positive cases within our community, largely within the first-year MBA class.” All other Sloan classes will continue as scheduled with in-person instruction until Thanksgiving break.

Sloan spokesperson Kate O’Sullivan wrote in an email to The Tech that the decision to shift to virtual instruction was out of an “abundance of caution.”

O’Sullivan wrote that the Sloan School of Management worked “closely with MIT Medical throughout the semester” and remains focused on “supporting students who have tested positive” and “keeping our wider community healthy and safe through the remaining weeks of the fall semester.” 

There will be no modifications to the curricula of classes that have fully moved to virtual instruction. Sloan’s planning for the spring semester will be “in concert with the rest of the Institute,” O’Sullivan wrote. 

Earlier this semester, Sloan went remote for a week after two large outdoor gatherings of MBA students were reported in September. O’Sullivan wrote that the decision to switch to virtual classes Nov. 5 was unrelated to the remote week in September.

Stuopis wrote that to prevent community transmission, MIT community members should wear masks, maintain six feet of social distancing, and avoid “gathering with friends,” “eating together,” traveling, or “gathering for Thanksgiving or the holidays.” 

Stuopis emphasized that MIT Medical does not “report any of the information learned through contact tracing to the Office of Student Conduct and Community Standards,” and students will not face disciplinary action “because of information you reveal to a contact tracer.”