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MIT says all large classes will be taught online amid coronavirus fears

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology campus in Cambridge, Mass.Charles Krupa/Associated Press

MIT has announced that all large classes with more than 150 students will go online starting on Tuesday, to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.

The university expects the change to impact about 20 classes. Midterm exams for these large classes will occur on schedule for now, but the university is spreading students across several classrooms so that smaller numbers of students are in each room and have limited contact with each other, the university said.

MIT said that there are no known cases of coronavirus on campus, and that the risk remains low. But the university needs to move quickly to prevent the potential transmission of the disease, Ian Waitz, vice chancellor for undergraduate and graduate education, wrote today in a letter to deans and department heads, according to the university’s internal news publication.


“Our approach is to be aggressive, but to move forward in stages,” Waitz said. “While keeping in mind that some individual faculty and departments may be moving faster than others, that the level of comfort with remote teaching varies, and that some classes may translate better than others to alternative formats.”

MIT is the first university in Massachusetts to announce that it has moved several of its classes online over concerns about the virus. Several universities elsewhere in the country, including Stanford, Princeton, and Columbia, have announced in recent days that they are moving their classes to a virtual format.

Leaders at other Massachusetts universities have also been in meetings today to determine whether to follow suit.

Deirdre Fernandes can be reached at deirdre.fernandes@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @fernandesglobe.