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New Harvard medical, dental students to start fall semester remotely

Deans at Harvard's medical and dental schools told students today that due to Covid-19, the fall semester for incoming students will start with only online classes - a couple weeks after a Harvard University official said that the main Harvard campus would be open to students in September.

In a letter to students today, the deans said they've spent the past couple of weeks trying to figure out how to safely let students start or resume studies in person and concluded it couldn't be done, at least not to start:

After deep analysis in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have decided that our fall 2020 courses will commence remotely for our entering classes of medical, dental and graduate students, as well as for our HMS-directed external education programs that would have been held on campus. Given the uniqueness of our education programs, which run for 12 months and emphasize hands-on learning, we hope to be able to hold in-person research and clinical experiences for our returning medical and graduate students and will continue to closely follow institutional guidelines and public health developments.

They add they're not yet even sure if classes can resume at the Longwood Medical Area campus in January:

We hope to have all of our students back on campus by January, but we are mindful of the many unknowns and will update our projections as new information becomes available. In the meantime, please know that we are committed to delivering high-quality, transformative educational experiences to our students. We are confident that we can uphold the excellence that is the signature of a Harvard education. We are also committed to assisting our teaching faculty in designing online courses that meet these high standards and in supporting technologies that bolster our teaching and learning initiatives.

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Comments

Harvard has not said that the main Harvard campus would be open "to students" in September. It said that it will be open but that "we will need to prepare for a scenario in which much or all learning will be conducted remotely." This was likely in response to a petition from students that the semester be postponed rather than be conducted remotely.

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Raise your hand if you'd like to be the first patient of a remotely educated dentist, LOL.

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First year dental students take medical school courses. They don't come to the dental school until the second year. (Used to be medical school for the first two years, before 2015.)

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Makes sense. I couldn't resist the lame joke, though.

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They don't usually do hands on things - other than gross anatomy - until later on. This is a sound way to reduce risk of close quarters - put the book learning on line.

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we have decided that our fall 2020 courses will commence remotely for our entering classes

vs.

we hope to be able to hold in-person research and clinical experiences for our returning medical and graduate students

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I updated the post as soon as I was informed I'd skipped over a line in the letter.

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main Cambridge campus is safe but the LMA (Roxbury) isn't?

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Very few decisions are this simple. This is not that simple.

When weighing a massive set of risks vs benefits, any risks you can eliminate outright helps you focus better on the risks you might have to take.

And let's look at this in context, only first semester, first year medical and dental students won't be coming to the LMA campus, because the school believes it can provide them an equivalent education online. That same decision has to be made for every unique set of students.

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I think that Adam's blurb is a little misleading. The latest info said that the university would be open (ie working, educating, researching) but left open the possibility that some, most or all could still be remote in the fall.

Read it here: https://www.harvard.edu/coronavirus/updates-community-messages/planning-...

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