Pod programs suspended in Baker, Maseeh, New Vassar residence halls
Pods may be reinstated after further contact tracing
The pod programs in Baker House, Maseeh Hall, and New Vassar (NV) have been temporarily paused due to “reports of unauthorized gatherings both on and off campus” that purportedly involved residents of the dorms, Vice President and Dean for Student Life Suzy Nelson and MIT Medical Director Cecilia Stuopis ’90 announced in an email to MIT undergraduates on March 1.
Nelson and Stuopis wrote that “over 50 students” were involved in the gatherings or were pod mates of those involved in the gatherings. The pod programs have been paused to make time for contact tracing and to determine whether there has been any spread of COVID-19.
In the past seven days, MIT Medical has identified 24 positive tests out of 23,077 total tests, according to MIT’s COVID-19 testing dashboard. Of the 24 positive cases, 14 are students. Additionally, 15 students are currently in isolation and 68 are in quarantine.
The pod programs in the residence halls may be reinstated once contact tracing has been conducted. The pod program will be reinstated “if testing and contact tracing results show there’s no impact on Maseeh,” Maseeh Heads of House Suzanne Flynn and Jack Carroll wrote to Maseeh residents.
During the pod program suspension, all students in the affected residence halls are not permitted to gather with pod mates in pod lounges or each other’s rooms, to remove their face coverings in the presence of pod mates, or to relax physical distancing guidelines. Students living in Baker, Maseeh, and NV may still attend in-person classes and access other MIT facilities, following MIT’s COVID-19 policies.
Additionally, students who have information that can help MIT Medical’s contact tracers better understand the weekend gatherings are advised to email firstname.lastname@example.org, Nelson and Stuopis wrote.
The Division of Student Life has implemented a COVID-19 Student Amnesty policy. Similar to MIT’s Good Samaritan Amnesty policy, MIT “will also treat the violation” of COVID-19 policies “primarily as a health and safety matter,” rather than as a disciplinary incident.
Under the policy, if a student self-reports their own behavior violating MIT’s COVID-19 policies to MIT Medical, the information will be protected by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and will not be shared with the Committee on Discipline for disciplinary action.
Students may, however, be required to comply with a “wellness follow-up” possibly consisting of educational requirements, guidance by medical officials, quarantine, or self-isolation, according to the policy.
Nelson and Stuopis wrote in their email that they “want to make sure” MIT does not see an increase of COVID-19 cases as other college campuses have.
MIT concluded Quarantine Week (Q-Week) noon of Feb. 23 for undergraduates who recently moved on campus. Q-Week was extended due to various students not complying with testing requirements and reports of undergraduates violating MIT’s COVID-19 policies. In-person classes and access to other MIT facilities began March 1.
In Fall 2020, when only seniors were invited to live on campus, the pod program at Simmons Hall was similarly paused for one week after reports of multiple pods intermingling.