Harvard Business School Will Move to Remote Instruction and Restrict On-Campus Activities as Virus Cases Surge


Harvard Business School will transition to remote instruction and restrict on-campus activities in response to increasing COVID-19 positivity rates among its affiliates.

Executive Dean for Administration Angela Q. Crispi and outgoing Business School Dean Nitin Nohria announced the change in a message to Business School affiliates Saturday. The Business School is the only one of the University’s 12 degree-granting schools that offered in-person instruction this semester.

Crispi and Nohria wrote they based the decision to go remote on a number of indicators. Last Monday, five Business School affiliates had tested positive; by Saturday, 24 had. During the same five-day span, the number of Business School affiliates in quarantine rose from 14 to 114.

Crispi and Nohria also wrote that individuals in quarantine had begun to test positive for the coronavirus, which “simply wasn’t happening” at the beginning of the semester. MBA students represent approximately 70 percent of the total Business School-linked cases, per the email.


“We realize the transition represents a perhaps counterintuitive move, because we have stressed from the beginning — and continue to feel confident — that our classrooms, dining halls, and other on-campus spaces are not the locus of infection in our community,” Crispi and Nohria wrote. “Indeed, as of today, we have no evidence of infection occurring as a result of contact or interaction in these locations."

Crispi and Nohria also cited rising virus cases and COVID-19 hospitalizations in Massachusetts more broadly.

The two deans urged students to form self-contained social pods for the remainder of the semester, encouraging them to find ways to engage with students outside of their pods online. The deans also wrote they would encourage all MBA students to get tested for the virus three times next week.

“We know this makes isolation and quarantine seem especially difficult: you feel fine. But these steps remain vital to limiting the spread of COVID on our campus. You can be fully asymptomatic and have a high viral load, meaning you are infectious to others,” they wrote.

“The majority” of students have complied with social distancing practices throughout the pandemic, per the email.

“We have discovered, though, that even small numbers of people disregarding safety measures can have a disproportionate effect on transmission rates. We now need to see what we can do to remedy this reality,” Crispi and Nohria wrote.

The Business School currently intends to operate in person at the start of the Spring semester, conditions-permitting.

—Staff writer Ellen M. Burstein can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @ellenburstein.


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