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Outbreak prompts Harvard Business School to move classes online

  • >> Eduardo Medina, The New York Times
    Published: 2021-09-30 02:20:48 BdST

A student wearing a mask, because his cancer treatment has left him immunosuppressed and vulnerable to diseases such as the coronavirus, walks through the Yard at Harvard University, after the school asked its students not to return to campus after Spring Break and said it would move to virtual instruction for graduate and undergraduate classes, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, US, March 10, 2020. Reuters

Harvard Business School announced on Monday that all first-year and some second-year graduate students will temporarily revert to remote learning after a recent surge in breakthrough cases driven by the delta variant.

The shift to remote learning for the school, which is in Boston, will last through Oct 3, said Mark Cautela, a spokesman for the business school.

“In recent days, we’ve seen a steady rise in breakthrough infections among our student population, despite high vaccination rates and frequent testing,” he said in a statement.

As of Sept 22, 95 percent of students and 96 percent of employees at Harvard are fully vaccinated, according to data from the university.

“Contact tracers who have worked with positive cases highlight that transmission is not occurring in classrooms or other academic settings on campus,” Cautela said. “Nor is it occurring among individuals who are masked.”

The university has asked students to avoid unmasked indoor activities, group travel and gatherings with people outside their household.

The business school will begin testing all students three times a week, regardless of their vaccination status, Cautela said. Previously, unvaccinated students were being tested twice a week, and vaccinated students once a week, he said.

Graduate students have accounted for most of the recent positive cases at Harvard, according to the university’s COVID-19 dashboard. Over the past seven days, graduate students have comprised 51 of the 66 positive cases at the school.

Massachusetts has some of the highest vaccination rates in the country, with 77 percent of its population at least partly vaccinated and 68 percent fully vaccinated. New cases in the Boston area have been falling since a recent surge peaked in mid-September.

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