Harvard, MIT move to online classes, ask students not to return after Spring Break

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — As the number of presumptive cases of coronavirus rise in Mass., local institutions are taking precautions to protect students and staff. On Tuesday morning, Harvard University announced that classes will be held online and by Tuesday afternoon, MIT announced the same.

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Harvard students were asked not to return to campus after Spring Recess ends on March 23. Harvard hopes to have the transition complete by that date. Both undergraduate and graduate students will be impacted by the switch.

The campus is also transitioning to non-essential gatherings of no more than 25 people.

LIVE UPDATES: 13 new cases of COVID-19 in Mass., some local colleges move to online classes

The decision to move to virtual instruction was not made lightly. The goal of these changes is to minimize the need to gather in large groups and spend prolonged time in close proximity with each other in spaces such as classrooms, dining halls, and residential buildings. Our actions are consistent with the recommendations of leading health officials on how to limit the spread of COVID-19 and are also consistent with similar decisions made by a number of our peer institutions. The campus will remain open and operations will continue with appropriate measures to protect the health of the community.

—  Harvard University President

At MIT, school officials announced classes are canceled for the week of March 16-March 20. The following week is spring break, and school officials are telling students not to return after the break. School officials will use that time to “organize a full transition to online instruction.”

Students who live on campus need to be out by Tuesday, March 17.

MIT says “we will consider limited exceptions to allow certain undergraduate students to remain on campus. However, to remain, you must receive official permission. Students will receive direct communications about this in a follow-up email. We will review such requests case by case, and as soon as possible.”

Meanwhile, businesses in Cambridge are figuring out how to prepare for a quiet campus.

“Clearly when the kids are here it’s a lot busier,” Khadeja McKinney of Insomnia Cookies told Boston 25 News.

“The business is going to take a hit, just like most other businesses. Once their customer base slows down, it takes a hit.”

Students are now scrambling, trying to remain focused on midterms and now figuring out what to do with all of their stuff.

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