Harvard to continue online learning into new school year

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Harvard University's undergraduate and graduate students will continue with online coursework into the 2020-2021 academic year as the nation continues to grapple with the effects of the novel coronavirus pandemic, school officials announced Monday.

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The Cambridge, Massachusetts, Ivy League school announced the decision on its website, writing that when the first semester of the school year begins as scheduled on Sept. 2, 2020, “all course instruction” will be done online.

“Students will learn remotely, whether or not they live on campus,” the school said.

University officials also said they would allow only 40 percent of undergraduates on campus in an effort to reduce density and prevent the spread of COVID-19. All freshmen will be invited, along with some other students who face challenges learning from afar.

In deciding which students to invite, Harvard's president said he “could not help but recognize the unique position that first-year students find themselves in, making the transition to college in these strange times.”

“They have not yet begun to build their Harvard network of faculty, advisors and friends,” Lawrence Bacow said in a campus letter. “Even with the many adaptations that will be in place this fall, we see enormous value in having them on campus in our residential system.”

If the same capacity limits are in place for the spring term, freshmen would likely return home and seniors would be invited to finish their final term on campus, Bacow wrote.

Harvard joins a growing number of universities announcing plans to bring back only a portion of their students. Yale University last week said 60% of its students will be invited for the fall.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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