CAMBRIDGE (CBS) – Harvard University is telling students to move out of their dorms by Sunday at 5 p.m. due to the spread of coronavirus. The school plans to move classes online starting March 23.

“The goal of these changes is to minimize the need to gather in large groups and spend prolonged time in close proximity with each other in spaces such as classrooms, dining halls, and residential buildings,” Harvard President Lawrence Bacow said in a message to students.

Students were set to begin their spring break on Saturday; now they’re being told not to come back.

“There are a lot of classes that involve labs that you really can’t replicate online. The sports teams are all devastated,” Harvard sophomore James Casey said. “It’s more than just the classes. It’s a lot of different things kind of all just coming to an end right at once.”

Harvard’s campus will remain open with “appropriate measures to protect the health of the community.” But the school is strongly discouraging any non-essential meetings or events of 25 people or more.

“To our students, especially those of you graduating this year, I know that this is not how you expected your time at Harvard to end,” Bacow wrote. “We are doing this not just to protect you but also to protect other members of or community who may be more vulnerable to this disease than you are.”

Harvard said it is “still working on the details” concerning possible room and board refunds for the remainder of the semester.

Students interviewed by WBZ-TV didn’t like the new policy.

“I think it’s going to be a logistical nightmare,” one student said.

“It’s going to cost a lot, a lot of money and I think a lot of people are going to have trouble finishing their classes at home,” another commented.

Harvard professor Dr. Myra White said that while classwork will be online, it will lack the important element of human interaction.

“When you have a really good class, you have a sense of what psychologists call ’emotional contagion,’ that we catch each other’s moods,” White said.

Amherst College announced on Monday that it would be holding all classes online after spring break, citing concerns about how many students travel during their time off. Smith College says students have until March 20 to move out and online classes are expected to start on March 30.

Other colleges including Tufts, Amherst, Emerson, Suffolk University and MIT will also move classes online.

Governor Charlie Baker announced a state of emergency Tuesday, as 92 people have tested positive for coronavirus in Massachusetts.

Comments (13)
  1. MrLiberty says:

    Maybe, finally, these ivory tower institutions will be brought down, and sane, affordable, practical higher education will finally be available again.

    1. Steve says:

      Go look up Harvard’s endowment. If you think they’re going to be brought down in your lifetime, or several lifetimes, you’re not living in the real world.

  2. nearboston says:

    I agree. PLEASE….. don’t come back.

  3. Sam Howe says:

    You have to be kidding. THese young people are NOT at any great risk from this virus. Perhaps Harvard is trying to protect their OLD professors many of whom should already be out to pasture!

  4. Ian says:

    Where would the international and out of state students go to on such short notice?

  5. soylentgreentea says:

    In other words “we are working to reduce overhead to increase our profits from your MASSIVELY OVERPRICED education by eliminating our need for classrooms, and large buildings, pay us the same though, thank you!”

  6. no name says:

    This is an old persons problem. These young students don’t care. In fact they see it a possble benefit to cull the old people.

  7. Ashu says:

    Will they offer refunds for housing and dining charges?

  8. atypical3 says:

    My granddaughter’s college in FL is on spring break. The college usually shuts down the dining area, etc, but this year they decided to keep everything open. Their thinking is that if everyone goes home, there is more chance that they will come back with the virus than if they stay.

  9. sand says:

    Is Harvard going to reimburse these students for a sub-standard skype education vs the ridiculous fee they’ve paid for a Harvard education??? Doubt it!…..Harvard is doing this because of pressure from the old tenured professors…..students are not at risk.

  10. Wayne Frazier says:

    who picks these arbitrary numbers for max capacity at an event. hell 2 infected people could infect and entire city in a couple of days.

  11. Raging Tater says:

    This whole issue is being blown totally out of all proportions. This is a particularly virulent flu virus. Everybody, everyone will be exposed to it. It can’t, repeat can’t, be contained at this point. Live life as you would during any flu event and for god sake get a grip.!

  12. Ivy League says:

    Harvard tells students to move out by Sunday and carry the virus back home. Now other colleges are going to follow the suit.

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