Harvard University announced Monday it will reopen with fewer than half of its undergraduates on campus, the latest sign of the extraordinary constraints that colleges face across the country as they map out plans for the fall term in the shadow of a deadly pandemic.
No more than 40 percent of Harvard’s undergrads will live at the Ivy League campus in Cambridge, Mass., when the school year begins. Most of them will be first-year students, given priority access to help them acclimate to college life despite the unprecedented disruptions of the novel coronavirus. All undergraduate courses will be taught remotely, the university said, no matter where the students are living.
Last March, most students at Harvard and elsewhere were forced to evacuate their dormitories and finish the spring term through remote learning. Now, educators are contemplating an extremely limited resumption of the campus experience, complete with masks, viral testing regimens, quarantine housing and a plethora of online classes.
“We determined that our fall plan must enable us to bring back as many students as possible while providing sufficient margin to accommodate an escalation in the prevalence of COVID-19 in our area,” Harvard said in a statement. “Anything less and we could find ourselves again facing the prospect of asking our students to leave, on short notice, prior to the end of the semester.”
Harvard’s plan resembles others that have been unveiled in recent days for prominent residential universities. But there are vast differences in approach among schools nationwide. Some are bringing nearly all students back to campus for at least some face-to-face instruction, while others are planning for nearly all courses to be remote.
(c) 2020, The Washington Post · Nick Anderson