Little more than a month ago, the pandemic had all but disappeared at Harvard Business School. Not a single MBA students tested positive for COVID-19 in the week ending April 8, allowing the school to report a zero positivity rate on campus.
The good news would prove ephemeral. Cases soared last week on HBS with 18 students reporting positive results on COVID tests, moving Harvard Business School into Massachusetts’ high-risk red zone.
The 18 new cases, more than double the eight cases reported for the week ending March 5, occurred as HBS moved near the end of the current semester. For the first week of March, the positivity rate was 0.36%. The new cases in the past week represent the school’s third highest weekly total since infections spiked at the start of September, according to an update email sent to HBS affiliates on Monday.
‘WE’VE MOVED INTO THE RED ZONE’
“We need to highlight, with dismay, the current positivity rate among MBA students,” wrote Executive Dean for Administration Angela Q. Crispi and Dean of the Faculty Srikant M. Datar. “We’re starting with the testing data—stark numbers that indicate we’ve moved into the red zone. Please be extra vigilant and diligent—for yourself, for your classmates, and for the many faculty and staff who want to see you finish the year on a high note.”
Since the end of March on the 30th, HBS has now reported 26 cases, meeting the state’s criteria for red-zone designation of more than 25 cases in a community under 10,000 residents within the last two weeks. Twenty-one students were in isolation and 21 in quarantine as of Monday. That is a sizable increase from the week ending March 15th when only one student was in quarantine and one was in isolation. In that week, only one MBA tested positive.
The stat’s risk data classifies communities’ risk level on a scale from red, the highest, to grey, and is one of many metrics tracked by the state that had generally been showing the latest COVID surge subsiding.
HBS SAYS UPTICK IN CASES NOT THE RESULT OF IN-PERSON CLASSES
On the Harvard University campus, HBS is one of the university’s only schools allowing limited in-person instruction this semester. But a spokesperson for the school told The Harvard Crimson that none of the 18 cases were the result of classroom activities. The school added that it does not have information on the cause of the increase.
HBS has been publicly reporting weekly case numbers on its website since February. Oddly, however, the week of April 6 to 12 became the first week since then that case numbers disappeared from the weekly updates by Crispi and Datar. In that update published on April 13, the school only reported the worldwide cases of COVID and deaths, along with the number of tests taken in Massachusetts, the confirmed cases and the seven-day positivity rate of 2.42%.