MIT schools, departments, labs, centers, and offices have acted swiftly to postpone or cancel large events through May 15 in the wake of the Institute’s announcement last week of new policies regarding gatherings likely to attract 150 or more people.
To safeguard against COVID-19, and the spread of the 2019 novel coronavirus, many other MIT events have been modified both on campus and elsewhere, with increased opportunities offered for livestreaming.
The guidelines put forth last week have also now been expanded to include some large classes: The Institute will move classes with more than 150 students online, starting this week.
Impacts on classes and student travel
Following consultation with senior academic leadership and experts within MIT Medical, the Institute has suspended in-person meetings of classes with more than 150 students, effective tomorrow, Tuesday, March 10. The approximately 20 classes impacted by the decision will continue to be offered in virtual form.
“We are being guided by our medical professionals who are in close contact with state and national public health officials,” Ian Waitz, vice chancellor for undergraduate and graduate education, wrote today in a letter to deans and department heads. “They have advised us that while the risk to the community is low and there are no cases on campus as of now, we need to move quickly to help prevent the potential transmission of the disease and to be ready if and when it impacts our campus.”
“Our approach is to be aggressive, but to move forward in stages,” Waitz added, “while keeping in mind that some individual faculty and departments may be moving faster than others, that the level of comfort with remote teaching varies, and that some classes may translate better than others to alternative formats.”
As of now, midterm examinations will proceed as scheduled, but the plan for large courses is to run midterms in several rooms simultaneously so the number of students in each room remains well below 150. The Registrar’s Office is working on room scheduling strategies to best accommodate that approach.
The Institute has also decided to cancel any MIT-sponsored student travel that is related to a class, and all MIT-sponsored student domestic travel of more than 100 miles will have to go through the Institute’s high-risk travel waiver process.
Impacts on undergraduate and graduate admissions
As shared in President L. Rafael Reif’s letter of last Thursday, MIT’s new policy on events will apply to Campus Preview Weekend, ordinarily an on-campus gathering for students admitted to the incoming first-year undergraduate class. In the coming weeks, the Admissions Office will be connecting with admitted students, current students, and campus partners to discuss what to do instead of a conventional CPW. For more information, please see: https://mitadmissions.org/blogs/entry/mits-covid-19-precautions-and-its-impact-on-admissions/
The Admissions Office will not host any programming for K-12 students, including admitted students and their families, between now and May 15, regardless of the size of the event. All scheduled admissions sessions and tours have been canceled between now and May 15, and MIT Admissions is canceling all scheduled admissions officer travel to domestic and international events in that time window.
Additionally, all graduate admissions visit days have been canceled, effective immediately. “Based upon reducing risk, we ask all departments to cancel all remaining graduate open houses and visit days, and to move to virtual formats,” Waitz says. “Many departments have already done this.”
Despite the cancellation of these formal events, the MIT campus currently remains open for visits by prospective students. However, in keeping with suggested best practices for public health, visitors from countries that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) finds have “widespread sustained (ongoing) transmission” of COVID-19 cannot visit campus until they have successfully completed 14 days of self-quarantine.
Impacts on major campus events
The MIT Excellence Awards and Collier Medal celebration, scheduled for this Thursday, March 12, has been postponed; a rescheduled date will be announced as soon as it is confirmed. The Excellence Awards and Collier Medal recognize the work of service, support, administrative, and sponsored research staff. The Excellence Awards acknowledge the extraordinary efforts made by members of the MIT community toward fulfilling the goals, values, and mission of the Institute. The Collier Medal is awarded to an individual or group exhibiting qualities such as a commitment to community service, kindness, selflessness, and generosity; it honors the memory of MIT Police Officer Sean Collier, who lost his life while protecting the MIT campus. A full list of this year’s honorees is available.
Career Advising and Professional Development is working on plans to change the format of the Spring Career Fair, previously scheduled for April 2, to a virtual career fair for a date to be announced in April. All other large-scale employer engagement events — such as career fairs, mixers, symposiums, and networking events — will also be canceled; adopt a virtual model; be postponed beyond May 15; or adopt other models that meet the new policies involving large events.
MIT is postponing the remaining two Climate Action Symposia, “MIT Climate Initiatives and the Role of Research Universities” and “Summing Up: Why Is the World Waiting?” — previously scheduled for April 2 and April 22, respectively. These symposia will be rescheduled; new dates will be announced on climatesymposia.mit.edu.
Solve at MIT on May 12-14 will be virtual. In addition to a livestream on this page, Solve will continue to bring together its cross-sector community via interactive online workshops and more. Participants can also contribute a solution or a donation to the Health Security and Pandemics Challenge.
Impacts on athletics and intercollegiate athletics events
The Department of Athletics, Physical Education and Recreation (DAPER) is taking steps to safeguard student-athletes, staff, and community members who utilize DAPER facilities for club sports, intramurals, and recreation. Unless otherwise announced, MIT’s intercollegiate athletics events will continue as scheduled. However, visiting teams are asked to bring only student-athletes and essential team personnel to events at MIT.
Additionally, DAPER has requested that only MIT students, faculty, and staff members attend upcoming home athletic events through May 15. All other spectators, including parents, are asked to watch events using DAPER’s video streaming service.
Other impacted events and activities
Discussions are ongoing about many additional events scheduled between now and May 15. The list below will be updated as more information becomes available. Among the affected events and activities announced so far:
- Use of the pillars in Lobby 7 for community discussion is suspended for the rest of the spring semester, to minimize close contact and sharing of writing implements.
- SpaceTech 2020, scheduled for Wednesday, March 11, has been postponed until a later date. The all-day event, part of MIT Space Week, will highlight the future of space exploration by featuring lightning talks from current students; talks and panels from alumni; and an interactive guided tour along the Space Trail to visit Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AeroAstro) labs and ongoing research projects. Visit spacetech.mit.edu for the latest information.
- MIT Getfit has canceled both of its midpoint events originally scheduled for Wednesday, March 11. Organizers are working to contact participants with more information.
- The March 13 lecture titled “Fateful Triangle: How China Shaped US-India Relations During the Cold War,” by Tanvi Madan of the Brookings Institution, has been postponed. More information is available at http://southasianpolitics.net/.
- To the Moon to Stay Hackathon, scheduled for Saturday, March 14, has been postponed until a later date. MIT AeroAstro and the MIT Media Lab’s Space Exploration Initiative are partnering to design and build an experiment to go to the moon on board Blue Origin’s inaugural lunar mission. The goal of the hackathon is to bring the MIT community together to think about lunar missions and habitation through a variety of challenges. To receive updates, join their email list or visit tothemoon.mit.edu.
- The Koch Institute is limiting attendance at the SCIENCE with/in/sight: 2020 Visions event on March 17. This event is now for invited guests only.
- All MIT Communications Forum events have been postponed until the fall. This includes Science Under Attack, originally scheduled for March 19, and David Thorburn’s presentation as part of the William Corbett Poetry Series, originally scheduled for April 8.
- The MIT de Florez Award Competition, scheduled for April 15, will be conducted virtually. Additional information will be sent to the Mechanical Engineering community via email.
- The Mechanical Engineering Graduate Student Gala, scheduled for April 19, has been canceled and will be rescheduled for the fall.
- The Mechanical Engineering Student Awards Banquet, scheduled for May 15, has been canceled. Awards will be announced virtually.
- The Office of Engineering Outreach Programs (OEOP) has canceled its SEED Academy program through May 15. This includes the SEED Academy Spring Final Symposium on May 9. OEOP will continue to communicate with SEED Academy students and parents via email and through The Sprout newsletter to offer information on course, project, and engagement options.
- The 2020 Brazil Conference at MIT and Harvard has been canceled. More information can be found at brazilconference.org.
- The March 12 Starr Forum, titled “Russia’s Putin: From Silent Coup to Legal Dictatorship,” has been changed to a live webcast.
- The March 13 Myron Weiner Seminar on International Migration, titled “Future Aspirations Among Refugee Youth in Turkey Between Integration & Mobility,” has been canceled.
- The MIT Sloan School of Management is canceling all international study tours and treks. Student conferences are either being cancelled or modified: The March 7 Robo-AI Exchange Conference, the March 13 New Space Age Conference, and the April 2 Golub Center for Finance and Policy discussion on equity market structure with the SEC are canceled. The March 13 ETA Summit and the April 17 Ops Sim Competition are proceeding, with virtualization. The March 16 Entrepreneurship and Innovation Alumni gathering in San Franciso is also canceled.
- The 2020 MIT Scholarship and UROP Brunch that was scheduled for April 4 has been canceled.
- The MIT Campaign for a Better World event in Toronto, originally set for April 29, will be postponed.
- The Program in Science, Technology, and Society’s Morison Lecture and Prize in Science, Technology, and Society, originally scheduled for April 14, 2020, 4 p.m.; E51-Wong Auditorium, has been rescheduled for Oct. 1, 2020.
This article will be updated as more information on impacted events becomes available.