The following letter was sent to the MIT community April 24th by President Rafael L. Reif and Chancellor Cynthia Barnhart.
To the members of the MIT community,
Given the persistent threat of Covid-19, we write to share important decisions about summer programs for students, specifically travel programs and those research and internship opportunities that would usually occur on campus in June.
Ordinarily, we would announce changes in student programs only to the people who might be directly affected. But since everyone is craving clarity about the future, we want to be clear that these decisions are the latest steps in a coordinated process of thinking through how our community will navigate this Covid-shadowed era.
For MIT as for institutions across the country, the current intense uncertainty presents a tricky balance: How to keep everyone as safe as possible while providing excellent educational experiences for our students, sustaining the momentum of MIT research and preserving MIT’s financial stability for us all?
Through consultation with students, faculty, staff and postdocs, as well as with state and local leaders and public health officials, we are working hard to imagine and plan various scenarios for a safe, step-by-step transition from the current reality – where most of us are “staying at home” – to a gradual restoration of various aspects of campus life, including options for how best to approach the new academic year.
At this stage, we are eager to give you a sense of our working scenarios and create an opportunity for all of us to work through some big questions together. To that end, we are rapidly planning a participatory virtual community event and problem-solving process – stay tuned for more details.
To a large extent, the final plans we pursue for the months ahead will depend on the pace of scientific and government progress, from testing to contact tracing to effective therapeutics and a vaccine. We continue to take great hope from the fact that MIT researchers are among those who are pioneering advances in the fight against Covid-19, with projects that could help change the game not only for MIT but for the world.
While we don’t yet have more specifics about the rest of the summer, or about overall plans for a return to campus life, we have high hopes that your engagement in the interactive community event and problem solving will help us accelerate that process and arrive at a solution that is truly worthy of MIT.
L. Rafael Reif