This article will be updated periodically. Last updated: Jun 3

An updated survey of 14 Greater Boston colleges and universities, representing tens of thousands of undergrad and grad students, shows that — at this point — half of these schools are planning to be holding at least some in-person classes in the fall.

The survey, done by checking school websites, also reveals that the universities have left themselves plenty of wiggle room for either going ahead with in-person classes, or going online, depending on the course of the coronavirus epidemic.

Many colleges remain undecided

Since our last update, two more schools have decided to provide in-person classes in the Fall. The seven schools that plan to conduct at least some in-person teaching are: Bentley University, Berklee College of Music, Boston College, Boston University, MIT, Northeastern University, and Tufts University.

Most of these colleges are considering offering multiple formats of teaching, including a hybrid model where students can choose in-person or online courses. 

Seven other colleges are still hedging on their plans. These include: Berklee College of Music, Emerson College, Harvard University, MIT, Simmons University, Suffolk University, UMass Amherst, UMass Boston, and Wellesley College.

Although all of the schools said they hope to reopen campuses this fall, they are also leaving a possibility for continuing online teaching entirely. In late April, Harvard provost Alan Garber wrote in a public message addressed to “members of the Harvard community” that they “will need to prepare for a scenario in which much or all learning will be conducted remotely.”

Out of 14 schools and programs in Harvard, four have announced that they plan to start their teaching fully remotely in the fall.

With Massachusetts’ phased reopening, universities such as MIT and Northeastern have announced their gradual plans to bring back students on campus, starting with reopening research and lab facilities. Many undecided schools intend to make the final decision by the end of June.

There have been multiple concerns, especially among international students, that they can not obtain student visas soon enough to enroll in the Fall semester as U.S. embassies worldwide have ceased to issue new visas. Others may still feel unsafe leaving their home and attending classes in September. Remote learning is likely to remain the main way of learning at most universities and colleges in the Boston area.

Summary Table

Boston Universities’ plans for opening fall 2020 table
University Will at least some classes be taught in person in the fall? Public comments from each university
Bentley University “Right now, we plan on offering on-campus courses this fall…”
Berklee College of Music “… 60 to 80 percent likely to have students on campus in the fall, in what we’re calling it ‘on-campus hybrid model’…”
Boston College “Our intent is to open for on-campus classes as scheduled on August 31.”
Boston University “We are developing systems to make sure that we will be able to offer classes here on campus (…), but we also plan to make it possible for students to attend and participate in live class sessions remotely.”
Emerson College ? “… we hope to provide an announcement of our best and current thinking about the Fall 2020 term by June 12.”
Harvard University ? “Harvard’s undergraduate, graduate, and professional Schools will be making determinations and announcements about their plans for fall 2020 based on their own unique considerations.”
MIT “… the Institute is beginning to take measured steps to bring people back to campus, starting with research operations and graduate students who departed in March.”
Northeastern University “In the coming days, we will begin the phased return of a small number of faculty, staff, and students working in critical research labs…”
Simmons University ? “From now until July 1, we will be working to determine a plan for fall…”
Suffolk University ? “We are using the rest of May and the month of June to further plan for gradual reopening of on-campus operations…”
Tufts University “… consider multiple modes of teaching including the possibility of a hybrid model in which some programs or individual courses are taught in person, some remotely, and some in a dual format.”
UMass Amherst ? “We are working (…) to determine when we can resume in-person instruction…”
UMass Boston ? “We will update the community when fall decisions are available.”
Wellesley College ? “We expect to announce our plans for the academic and residential programs for the fall no later than July 1.”

Featured photo by Aubrey Rose Odom on Unsplash

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