Precautions for the upcoming semester
August 11, 2021
To the members of the MIT community,
As September draws closer, we are eagerly awaiting the return of more of our students, faculty, and staff. Some of you have been on campus throughout the pandemic, while others have been away for more than a year. Due to the rise of the Covid-19 Delta variant, you may be newly anxious about your safety at MIT.
Unfortunately, Covid-19 is not going away. Experts believe that Covid-19 will eventually recede, but for now, we need to find ways to live our lives while protecting each other, our families, and everyone around us.
In that spirit, we have put in place a series of measures aimed at minimizing the transmission of Covid-19 and keeping the MIT community as healthy as possible in the upcoming academic year.
Vaccination is our first and most powerful layer of defense, and MIT’s Covid-19 vaccination mandate remains our best weapon against Covid-19. We have good news on this front: once our returning international community members are fully vaccinated in the first few weeks of the semester, more than 98 percent of the campus should be fully immunized. Despite this high rate of vaccination, we know that breakthrough infections will occur. As we’ve seen in the news, and even here on campus, while vaccines reduce the risk of serious symptoms or hospitalization, fully vaccinated people can still test positive and transmit the virus to others.
All MIT community members who are accessing campus at least once a week will need to be tested weekly. People will be required to self-isolate if they test positive, even if they don’t have symptoms. MIT Medical will continue to conduct contact tracing for all positive cases and will inform close contacts as appropriate.
To make testing easier, MIT Medical and IS&T are close to launching a take-home version of our Covid-19 swab test. This approach will allow you to test unobserved when it is convenient for you. You should attest at the same time. Then you will just have to drop off your sample at one of the designated locations across campus. More information about unobserved testing will be available shortly.
Masks are currently required in all indoor spaces at MIT regardless of vaccination status. This provides another effective layer of protection against the virus. It is easy to become complacent about masks — letting them drop below your nose or taking them off for one-on-one conversations. Please wear your mask and wear it properly. Next to vaccination, well-fitting and properly worn masks are the best way to protect yourself and those around you.
Finally, if you feel sick, stay home.
If you’re feeling unwell — if you have an unexplained headache, a sniffle you know isn’t allergies, a fever, or a scratchy throat — stay home. Attest to your symptoms in Covid Pass and MIT Medical will follow up with you. Monitor your symptoms until you feel better. If you’re a student and worried about missing classes, Student Support Services and the Office of Graduate Education can help.
I’ll close with an important point: The situation with Covid-19 remains very fluid, and circumstances can change. We will continue to monitor community spread in the areas around MIT. That said, at this time, we don’t envision any scenario where we will again shut down MIT, return to remote learning, or send students or employees home.
MIT Medical and hundreds of campus partners have worked tirelessly to prepare MIT for this fall. We appreciate your cooperation in helping us to keep MIT safe and healthy, and we look forward to having our community fully back together again.
Cecilia Stuopis, MD
Medical Director, MIT Medical