US colleges Harvard and Princeton plan to bring back some students this year

Harvard University said it will invite about 40% of students to campus. PHOTO: AFP

BOSTON (BLOOMBERG) - Harvard and Princeton universities plan to bring back a portion of their undergraduate populations for the upcoming semester, with regular testing and private sleeping areas.

Princeton has also approved a 10% discount to tuition for all students during 2020-21, whether they're on campus or taking classes online, the Ivy League school said in a statement Monday (July 6).

Harvard University said it will invite about 40% of students to campus, including the freshman class, and that students will be tested every three days during the semester and live in single rooms.

At Princeton University, about half the class will arrive in August, including freshmen and juniors, while the other half can return the following semester.

"Many social and recreational activities will be unavailable, impermissible or highly regulated," Princeton said. "Parties will be prohibited."

As the virus continues to spread, colleges are determining how they can accommodate some students on campus while maintaining safety measures that include testing.

The plans disclosed by the two schools, among the richest in the US, are similar to those that Yale University announced last week.

Every person on Princeton's campus, including visitors, will be required to wear face coverings while indoors, except when they're alone in a space or are students in their assigned rooms or apartments.


Harvard's term would begin on Sept 2 and end before Thanksgiving, the school said Monday in a statement. While tuition will remain the same, students receiving need-based financial aid who don't return to campus will receive US$5,000 each semester to support studying at home.

Dining services will be prepared to transition between "touchless food pickup" and more traditional dining operations as the situation warrants, according to the statement from Harvard President Lawrence Bacow, Dean Claudine Gay and Dean of the College Rakesh Khurana.

Library space will remain closed and no off-campus visitors will be allowed in student residences, including enrolled students who aren't living on campus.

"The recent upturn in Covid-19 cases in certain states illustrates the difficulty of making predictions, even well-informed ones, about the evolution of this virus," they wrote. "Given this uncertainty, 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 of the prevalence of Covid-19 in our area."


Sophomores and juniors would likely not return to campus this year, and if only one group could return in the early 2021 semester, priority will be given to seniors.

US colleges are determining how to proceed as it's unclear how many students will want to enroll. New Jersey's Rutgers University announced Monday that its campuses will offer mostly online courses with a limited number of in-person classes.

At Harvard, the deferral deadline for freshmen has been extended to July 24. For upperclassmen contemplating taking a leave of absence, the school is offering advisers to work with them.

A decision about winter and spring varsity and club sports will be made later this year, the school said.

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