Harvard Business School has disclosed that it has experienced 82 positive COVID cases among students, faculty and staff sine the beginning of this year. All told, there have been 62 student cases and 22 faculty and staff cases since Jan. 1.
The weekly positivity rate, however, remains very low. For the week ending Feb. 22, when five new positive cases were identified among four students and one faculty and staff member, the positivity rate was just 0.16% among students and 0.07% among professors and staff members. In comparison, the latest weekly positivity rate in Massachusetts is 1.89%.
The numbers were made public by Executive Dean for Administration Angela Crispi and Business School Dean Srikant Datar in a coronavirus update to the HBS community yesterday (Feb. 23). The pair noted that the the current positivity rate for students is down from 0.29% a week earlier and 0.10% for faculty and staff. While HBS has a COVID dashboard, access to it is limited to members of the school community.
‘SOME SENSE OF ENGAGEMENT AND VIBRANCY’ ON CAMPUS EMERGING
The school also reported that it reached what it called “minimum critical mass” activity on campus. Since Feb. 1, the school said there have been 14 indoor events and 11 outdoor events on campus. The unique card swipes to get into HBS buildings totaled 1,271, with 786 from students and 68 from faculty. HBS served 753 meals since the start of the month.
“The numbers reflect what we see and feel when we are at school: relative to the spring and summer, we’ve reached what we’d call minimum critical mass,” wrote Crispi and Datar. “In other words, in terms of people and activity, we’re still limited enough to meet the relevant university and state guidelines, yet significant enough to create some sense of engagement and vibrancy. We hope and expect this only to increase if the positivity rate continues to drop and the rate of vaccinations increases.”
At Harvard Business School, hybrid classes were paused in November when there was a notable spike of positive cases. The school’s decision to go completely remote was sparked by what it called an “especially troubling” jump in close contacts when cases began to transition from quarantine to isolation. In mid-November, the school revealed that on Nov. 9th it had five infected persons in the community. Five days later on Nov. 14th, there were 24. The number of HBS students, faculty and staff in quarantine over this five-day period rose to 114 from just 14.
GROUP DINNERS, SOCIAL GATHERINGS & TRAVEL LED TO REMOTE INSTRUCTION IN NOVEMBER
At the time, the school noted that infections apparently occurred as “a result of activities that are natural and benign in normal times: group dinners and other social gatherings, group athletic activities, and travel without proper quarantine upon return among some number of our students. But during a time when the pandemic is surging broadly, it means infections in our community are likely to continue to rise at an unacceptable rate.”
This spring, however, HBS returned to its hybrid format of being either fully remotely or in hybrid classrooms, in which rotating groups of 25 students attend in-person classes that are also broadcast to other students in a remotely via Zoom. In a Feb. 16 update, the school reported that 115 class sessions were held in a hybrid classroom in the previous week.