Undergraduate move-in and in-person instruction possibly delayed until March

Students not approved to access campus may receive one COVID-19 test per week

The start of in-person instruction for the spring semester may be delayed to March 15 and undergraduate move-in to March 6, Chancellor Cindy Barnhart PhD ’88 announced in an email to undergraduates Jan. 15. Other dates such as the start of the semester, final exam week, and Commencement will not be impacted.

The development of the contingency plans comes as “positive cases and death tolls are on the rise” and in case “state and federal guidance becomes more restrictive” in the coming weeks, Barnhart wrote. 

Though Barnhart hopes the back-up plan will not be necessary, “it’s critical that students and families make their travel arrangements as flexible as possible.” A final decision will be made no later than Jan. 26. 

The two-week delay to the start of in-person instruction and three-week delay to the undergraduate move-in weekend are listed as a possible alternative in the contingency plans.

Barnhart also announced in the email that both MIT undergraduate and graduate students living in the Greater Boston area will be given access to the MIT Covid-19 testing program regardless of whether or not students are “approved for campus access during the spring semester.” 

Students who are “not currently approved to access campus facilities” can use the Covid Pass application to “receive up to one test per week at an MIT Covid-19 testing location at no charge” starting Jan. 19. However, testing once per week will “not qualify students to access campus facilities beyond MIT Medical testing sites.”

The decision came due to knowledge that “students with and without campus access interact with one another.” For example, “some off-campus students in Covid Pass live with students who do not have campus access or testing privileges.” “Expanding” the testing program would allow the health protection of “more MIT community members.”

Barnhart wrote that MIT remains “committed to the spring framework” of bringing first years, sophomores, and juniors back to campus as previously outlined, though “colleges and universities across the country are altering their spring semesters or engaging in contingency planning.” Stanford University reversed plans to invite first years and sophomores for the winter quarter Jan. 9.