Harvard University said on Saturday it would switch to distance learning for several weeks in January amid an increase in new cases in the region and across the country.
In a letter to the school community, Harvard officials noted that during the first three weeks of January, “we will take steps to reduce the density on campus by shifting much of our learning and working remotely.”
The letter said that students who had received approval from their specific school or a previous authorization would be the only students allowed to stay or return to campus during the three-week period.
Harvard officials have acknowledged that some programs, including those requiring lab work, will continue in person, but said others will move to remote work.
School officials said the move was to be temporary, with “a return to more robust activities on campus later in January, public health conditions permitting.”
“Please know that we are not taking this step lightly. This is being brought on by the rapid increase in COVID-19 cases locally and across the country, as well as the growing presence of the highly transmissible variant of Omicron, ”Harvard officials wrote. “It is reinforced by the advice of public health experts who have advised the University throughout the pandemic. As always, we make this decision with the health and safety of our community as our top priority. “
Earlier this week, a school district in Maryland also announced that it would temporarily switch to distance learning.
The announcements come as the United States has started to see a slight increase in cases and the spread of the omicron variant, which scientists are rushing to learn more about.