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Harvard Business School moves classes online amid rise in COVID cases

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Harvard Business School says it is reverting to remote learning after beginning the semester with in-person classes, citing a rise in breakthrough COVID-19 cases among its students.

All first-year and some second-year MBA students will take classes online beginning this week. Classes will take place remotely at least until October 3, the school said in a statement. 

As universities resumed in-person instruction this fall, outbreaks of COVID-19 cases have popped up among students across the nation — despite the fact that many colleges have vaccine mandates, as well as the requirement to wear masks indoors. More than 900 institutions of higher learning had vaccine mandates in place as of September 20, with such requirements more prevalent on campuses in Northeastern and Western states, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education. 

"With the support of Harvard University leaders, advised by city and state public health officials, we have decided to move all first-year MBA students and some in the second year, to remote learning for the week of 9/27 to 10/03," HBS spokesperson Mark Cautela said in a statement to CBS MoneyWatch Monday.

The move comes after "a steady rise in breakthrough infections" among the business school's student population.

"Contact tracers who have worked with positive cases highlight that transmission is not occurring in classrooms or other academic settings on campus. Nor is it occurring among individuals who are masked," Cautela added. 

COVID-19 testing

The renowned business program is also asking its students to stop participating in unmasked indoor activities and to limit in-person interactions with individuals outside of their households by moving all group gatherings online and cancelling group travel. 

Cautela added that students are now being tested three times a week, and will be kept apprised of "all aspects of the situation." A business school dashboard, accessible only to members of the community, is regularly updated with the latest testing data.

Ninety-six percent of Harvard University's employees are vaccinated, while 95% of its students are vaccinated, according to the university's COVID-19 testing dashboard

Harvard is requiring vaccination against COVID-19 for all of its community members, including students, faculty, staff and researchers. There were 62 positive tests among graduate students and three in its undergraduate population for the week of September 19. 

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