Harvard will reopen this fall, although remote learning may continue, provost says

Harvard will be open in the fall, but many classes may still be online, the university's provost said.

(CNN)Harvard will be open for the fall semester, but some or all instruction may continue to be online, the university's provost said Monday.

"Our goal is to bring our students, faculty, postdoctoral fellows and staff to campus as quickly as possible," Provost Alan Garber wrote in an open letter Monday, "but because most projections suggest that COVID-19 will remain a serious threat during the coming months, we cannot be certain that it will be safe to resume all usual activities on campus by then."
"Consequently, we will need to prepare for a scenario in which much or all learning will be conducted remotely."
      Harvard's decision comes as schools, colleges, universities around the country grapple with the question of when to reopen.
        Barbara Mistick, president of the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, said earlier this month some group members are considering keeping their campuses closed this fall.
          Several criteria must be met for the school to safely reopen its doors, Garber wrote, including models showing the disease is "mostly behind us," and that another outbreak is unlikely.
          Each college within the university may have a different approach, he said.
          Harvard, along with many schools and universities in the country, moved to remote learning in March -- and even requested dorm residents to leave.
          "When and how we can safely return to these spaces will depend on the status of the pandemic and the strategies that can be deployed to mitigate its effects," Garber wrote.
          "If our community has not developed sufficient levels of immunity through recovery from the disease or vaccination, and if safe and effective antiviral therapy is not available, we will likely need adequate supplies of personal protective equipment, reliable and convenient viral testing, robust contact tracing procedures, and facilities for quarantine and isolation."
          In the coming months, administrators will determine what will ultimately happen in the fall.
            "Yet for us the most important decision is a clear one: Harvard will be open for fall 2020," Garber wrote.
            On the plus side, Garber said the university will have months to prepare for improving its online learning experiences. In March, faculty and staff had less than two weeks to ready for remote teaching.