Harvard College aimed to provide students with details on remote learning, academic requirements, and dining options ahead of Sunday afternoon’s move-out deadline, as the University looks to avert the impact of coronavirus.
The Dean of Students Office is looking at alternative ways to continue working with students and student groups, according to College spokesperson Rachael Dane. They are, however, directing their immediate focus to move out and students remaining on campus.
“In the short term, our attention is squarely focused on planning for student move out and engaging with students ahead of March 15 to ensure they have what they need to move out of their Houses, the Dudley spaces, and First Year dorms,” Dane wrote. “In the weeks to come, our attention will turn to supporting students who have been approved to remain on campus.”
Dane added that initiatives such as ROTC and veteran student outreach — headed by newly appointed Program Manager for Military Student Services Craig Rodgers — will continue remotely.
Faculty of Arts and Sciences Registrar Michael P. Burke notified College affiliates in a Thursday email of several developments regarding undergraduates’ “accelerated” move out.
Burke asked affiliates to practice “social distancing” to help limit the potential transmission of the virus. He also encouraged students to leave as soon as possible, citing increasing travel restrictions.
“The greater the density we maintain, the more everyone around us is at risk (and the more you take that risk with you as you travel home),” he wrote. “Please do your part to accelerate your move-out as quickly as possible. With new restrictions being placed on travel regularly, your ability to get to your destination could change if you wait too long.”
The updates come after two days of confusion and shock on Harvard’s campus. Following the announcement that students must depart their dorms by March 15 at 5 p.m., DSO and House staff scrambled to address students’ needs regarding travel, storage, and moving. Dane wrote that the DSO and the College notified faculty deans and residential staff of the decision Monday night.
The update also announced several academic extensions. According to Burke, the deadlines to drop courses and change grading statuses between letter-graded and Pass/Fail options have both been moved to April 13. He added that previous course withdrawals from this semester will be “automatically converted” to course drops. Dean of the College Rakesh Khurana notified students in an email Wednesday that all major academic deadlines — including senior thesis due dates — will be extended by at least a week for undergraduates.
All undergraduate dining halls will remain open through Friday dinner, according to Burke. On Saturday and Sunday, Quincy, Eliot, Kirkland, Cabot, and Pforzheimer House dining halls will continue to serve meals.
Burke wrote that, after Sunday, Harvard University Dining Services will serve meals to students who have received permission to remain in their dorms.
Burke also noted that the University has yet to make a final decision on the fate of Harvard’s 369th commencement ceremony. He wrote in the email that the “magnitude of logistical issues” has prevented the University from making a call. If held, commencement — scheduled for May 28 — will feature Washington Post executive editor Martin “Marty” Baron as speaker.
“Speaking with students throughout the week, it is clear that the status of commencement for the Class of 2020 is something that is on a lot of people’s minds,” Burke wrote. “When a determination has been made, it will be widely communicated to students.”
—Staff writer Declan J. Knieriem can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @DeclanKnieriem.