Harvard Business School (HBS) has decided against having a fully online MBA program this fall and will reopen their campus for a hybrid blend of in-person and online classes, according to Poets & Quants. This policy is different from the university’s plan for undergrads, in which only 40% of students will be permitted on campus for the fall semester. (Harvard Law School, on the other hand, has decided to conduct their fall semester fully online while charging full tuition, which has led to one student filing a class-action lawsuit against the school.)
Here are some of the changes HBS students can expect:
- The core curriculum or required curriculum (RC) classes for first-year students will be reduced from 90 to 72. Instead of having 8 sections of 90 students in each RC class, HBS plans to have 10 sections of 72 students, which will allow for social distancing.
- Second-year MBA students will have the option of taking classes entirely online or those offered in a hybrid format. In order to safely accommodate students taking high-demand hybrid classes, they may physically be in class on a rotation basis with part of their class taking place remotely.
- There will be no guests or visitors permitted on the campus.
- There will be restricted access to high-traffic common areas such as the library.
- Students will be tested for the Coronavirus weekly, or more frequently, depending on the situation. All students will be required to complete a “Crimson Clear” questionnaire daily.
- Any student that tests positive or has been exposed and has a high risk of contracting Coronavirus will be required to self-quarantine.
- Students who live on campus may need to move during self-quarantine to limit contact with other students in common areas such as kitchens and lounges.
- Anyone living off-campus will be required to self-quarantine away from the campus.
Deans speak up against fully remote learning
HBS Dean Nitin Nohria and Executive Dean for Admissions Angela Crispi considered switching to fully remote learning for the fall semester, but ultimately decided against it. He says, “For many of our students Boston is their preferred (or only) place of residence while attending the Doctoral and MBA Programs. Given the number of students we anticipate living at or near the School, and the inevitability of campus activity (much as we experienced in the spring semester), we believe it is better to manage and channel these flows of people though our spaces.”
Their statement continues, “For our international students, in-person instruction is key to maintaining their visa status and progress toward their degree. Finally, we are fortunate to have a campus that enables us to realize physical distancing guidelines in critical spaces such as our residence halls and classroom building, and without constraints like elevators that make moving people at scale from place to place infeasible.”
Changes are coming to HBS
This year’s entering class will be almost 25% smaller than the usual class size — 720 vs. 930-940. This shrinkage is at least partially due to the number of students who opted to defer their admission for a year or two. This smaller cohort will make it easier to implement the necessary COVID-19 health and safety protocols.
First-year students will start classes late in August. Returning second-year students will begin on September 1, and EC (Elective Curriculum) classes will start on September 2.
Most RC classes and activities will probably be online at the beginning of the semester, enabling all students to have the same experience and form bonds with other students in the same section. Hybrid learning will begin later in the semester. EC students will have the option of taking classes taught completely online or hybrid classes, with the understanding that some parts of hybrid classes will be given online.
Although many students and faculty want to return to campus life, some students may not want to expose themselves to others until some combination of testing, tracing, treatment, or a vaccine becomes available. Those students will be able to take all of their classes online. Faculty will have the option of teaching their classes remotely. “We fully respect every individual’s need to make the best choice for themselves and their loved ones,” stated Nohria and Crispi.
Being able to continue to have an open campus and in-person activities will be the responsibility of everyone on-campus — students, staff, and faculty — and requires a high level of trust. Violations of the rules, including unapproved travel, refusal to quarantine when required, and failure to wear a face covering, could lead to the erosion of that trust, and ultimately the closure of the campus.
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