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Harvard entrance

Harvard, Princeton plan to reopen with housing well below capacity

July 6, 2020
The Ivy League schools will keep many of their undergraduate students from living on campus to deter the spread of Covid-19.

Harvard and Princeton universities have announced that they will reopen their campuses later this year with many undergraduates barred from campus housing as schools try to deter the spread of Covid-19.

The Washington Post reports that no more than 40 percent of Harvard’s undergrads will live on the campus in Cambridge, Mass., when the school year begins. Most of those living on campus will be first-year students, given priority access to help them acclimate to college life. All courses will be taught remotely, Harvard says, no matter where the students are living.

"Without a vaccine or effective clinical treatments for the virus, we know that no choice that reopens the campus is without risk," university officials said in an online message. "That said, we have worked closely with leading epidemiologists and medical experts to define an approach that we believe will protect the health and safety of our community, while also protecting our academic enterprise and providing students with the conditions they need to be successful academically."

If the 40% capacity limit is maintained into the spring, the university intends to have seniors return to campus for spring semester and have first years  return home and take classes remotely.

At Princeton, only half of the undergrads will be invited back to the campus in New Jersey for the beginning of the 2020-21. First-year students and juniors will come in the fall, and sophomores and seniors in the spring. Most instruction will be remote, and Princeton will provide a 10 percent discount on tuition to all undergraduates no matter where they are living.

In March, most college students across the nation were forced to evacuate their residence halls and finish the spring term through remote learning. Now, educators are contemplating an extremely limited resumption of the campus experience. Students will be required to wear masks, undergo viral testing, and take online classes.

“We determined that our fall plan must enable us to bring back as many students as possible while providing sufficient margin to accommodate an escalation in the prevalence of Covid-19 in our area,” Harvard says. “Anything less and we could find ourselves again facing the prospect of asking our students to leave, on short notice, prior to the end of the semester.”

The Harvard and Princeton plans resemble others that have been unveiled in recent days by some residential universities. But there are vast differences in approach among schools nationwide. Some are bringing nearly all students back to campus for at least some face-to-face instruction, while others are planning for nearly all courses to be remote.

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