Guidance for reducing risk while participating in demonstrations or protests during the pandemic
April 16, 2021
During the pandemic, in order to have access to campus, you are required to participate in the Covid Pass program.
Covid Pass participants who live on campus may peacefully and safely gather in small groups in designated spaces so long as individuals remain physically distant, wear face coverings, and have MIT IDs visible.
Some courtyard spaces are large enough to accommodate multiple groups at the same time, but per MIT policy, no more than 100 total individuals in Covid Pass are permitted in these spaces, and small groups must have at least 12 feet separating them from other groups.
There are designated outdoor spaces in courtyards and on West Campus for peaceful gatherings of MIT Covid Pass holders who live on campus.
Virtual or small group options
Safe ways to gather or advocate peacefully include joining virtual protests, making signs and posting on social media, participating in a discussion group either online or in a small group, personally donating to causes you support, signing petitions, or contacting elected officials.
All community members, whether you are studying or working in person or remotely, from the Greater Cambridge/Boston area, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, or another state or country, are strongly encouraged to take precautions to protect your own health and the health of others by adhering to the below guidance if you decide to participate in demonstrations, marches, protests, or celebrations at any time.
During the Covid-19 global health emergency, large gatherings present significant individual and community health risks, and it is up to all of us to take responsibility for mitigating those risks. The larger the crowd, the greater the risk for uncontrolled transmission of the virus.
The majority of individuals who attend demonstrations, marches, protests, or celebrations do so to peacefully exercise their rights to freedom of expression and speech. It is also important to note, however, that during charged periods, others may choose to escalate or exploit tensions, which can lead to violence or other dangerous situations. If you take part in demonstrations, marches, protests, or celebrations in Boston or other locations away from campus, the Institute may not be able to help you return to Cambridge if officials in those areas implement a lockdown or impose other restrictions, especially if it is in response to violence or illegal activities.
Tips to stay well and safe during this time
Before deciding whether to participate in a demonstration, march, protest, or celebration, consider the health of those who are in your household or who you interact with regularly, especially if they are at higher risk for Covid-19 complications. Please note that while more people are being vaccinated daily, public health experts remain worried about the possibility of another surge of the virus. It is also important to remember that while being vaccinated reduces the chance that you will experience severe Covid-19 symptoms, it may not prevent you from contracting or spreading the virus.
If you are sick, or have recently been exposed to someone with Covid-19, stay home.
If you decide to participate in gatherings, we urge you to familiarize yourself with this helpful guidance from MIT Medical and to consider taking the below steps.
- Use the buddy system and ask someone you regularly interact with now, such as a significant other or podmate, to go with you.
- Let another individual know where you are going, and bring plenty of face coverings, hand sanitizer, and water with you.
- If you have a cell phone, make sure it is charged and bring it with you.
- Know your rights if you are stopped by police or other law enforcement agencies.
- Ensure that the demonstration, march, protest, or celebration complies with state and local guidelines and make sure you have a plan for safely returning to your residence.
- Wear your face covering at all times, especially when projecting your voice, and do your best to stay at least 6 feet apart from others at all times. Please note that shouting, singing, and chanting can spread viral particles much farther than 6 feet. Consider using signs and noisemakers instead.
- Continue to take care of yourself, mentally, physically, and emotionally.
- If you feel that you were not able to follow the recommended protocols, such as maintaining physical distance, consider a ten-day self-quarantine if you are unable to access testing, or consider a one-week self-quarantine and then seek a Covid test at day seven. Please remember that it is possible to transmit SARS-CoV-2 even if you do not have any symptoms or if you have been vaccinated.
- If you are an MIT Covid Pass participant, stay current with all testing and health monitoring requirements. If you are not an MIT Covid Pass participant, consider getting tested for Covid-19 seven days after attending events of this nature. If you have symptoms, you should report them in your daily attestation and MIT Medical will reach out to you as soon as possible. The daily attestation is the quickest way to reach MIT Medical to discuss symptoms; students are also welcome to contact MIT Medical by visiting https://medical.mit.edu/contact or calling Urgent Care at 617-253-1311. If you are not a patient of MIT Medical and/or are not in Covid Pass, our health care professionals will help refer you to test sites being operated by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
Remember that, in accordance with the Institute’s Covid-19 policies, if you fail to comply with testing and health monitoring requirements, you will not be able to access campus facilities, including your residence hall, until you are again in compliance. If you are restricted from accessing your campus residence hall, you can speak with the desk staff to get assistance.