Live updates: Northeastern and COVID-19

This story will be updated continually as new information comes from the university and elsewhere that pertains to Northeastern students.

11:55 a.m. March 27: Gov. Baker announces all travelers to Mass. must self-quarantine 

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker announced Friday morning that all travelers arriving in the state will be instructed to self-isolate for 14 days, effective immediately.

Instructions will be given at Boston Logan International Airport, South Station and Worcester Regional Airport. The directive will be displayed at highway rest stops and on message boards along the Turnpike. 

“We’re taking extraordinary steps here to keep our residents safe,” Baker said, “including asking folks to stay home and closing nonessential businesses … At the same time we’re asking so much of our residents, we should also be thinking about the potential impact of travellers visiting Massachusetts from other places.”

Baker urged travelers to comply in order to protect “the most vulnerable among us all” from potential infection.

Baker, a Republican, announced the new measures not long after President Donald J. Trump began stressing in news conferences and FOX News appearances that parts of the country should soon ease restrictions and “go back to work.”

On top of the quarantine requirement, Baker suggested that out-of-state residents shouldn’t come to Massachusetts if they don’t need to.

“We’re asking that folks considering travel to Massachusetts for whatever reason do not travel to our communities, especially if you have symptoms,” Baker said. “Healthcare workers, public health workers, public safety workers and transportation workers are obviously exempt from this requirement.”

3:50 p.m. March 26: Petition to pay dining hall workers has 5,200 signees; Chartwells laid off most

A Change.org petition urging Northeastern to ensure that its dining hall workers continue to be paid during the indefinite shutdown has gathered more than 5,200 signatures as of Thursday afternoon. Most campus dining locations have been shut down since March 18 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, as all classes were moved to online instruction and campus housing closed. 

According to a March 25 report in the Boston Globe, Northeastern has made no plans to continue paying dining workers. One dining worker told the Globe that when workers were told they were laid off, they were given a bag of onions, potatoes and bread, along with instructions on how to file for unemployment.

Northeastern spokesperson Renata Nyul told the Globe that this matter is between the employees and the school’s dining contractor, Chartwells. On Thursday, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology announced it would continue paying its dining hall workers for 30 days, including subcontractors. 

The petition specifically calls for Northeastern to pressure Chartwells to pay the affected workers. Northeastern has historically taken a passive role in disputes between dining hall workers and Chartwells; when the workers’ union voted to strike in 2017, a university spokesperson said Northeastern had no say in the matter.

6:40 p.m. March 23: Northeastern reduces employee presence on Massachusetts campuses

All non-essential staff must now work remotely effective from noon on Tuesday until noon on April 7 at Northeastern’s Massachusetts campuses. Employees were deemed “on-site essential”  by their individual managers and were notified of this decision by email. This email contained a letter that employees can show to campus security to allow them entrance to campus. All other employees were told to collect any necessary belongings from campus by noon on Tuesday. 

Among these essential employees are researchers, including doctoral students, conducting critical research. “Most of the university’s research enterprise—particularly research related to COVID-19—will maintain continuity,” wrote Kenneth Henderson and Michael Armini, the co-chairs of the university COVID-19 task force.

Northeastern directed employees with questions about their status to their individual supervisors. This notice did not change the current remote work policy in effect for Northeastern employees who have already been told to work from home.

3:40 p.m. March 20: Pass/fail option for up to two courses announced

Undergraduate students can choose to take up to two courses as pass/fail in the Spring 2020 semester due to the ongoing novel coronavirus pandemic, according to an email sent out to all faculty, staff and students at Northeastern Friday afternoon.

The choice on which courses is up to the students, but “all Spring 2020 undergraduate courses are eligible for Pass/Fail, including those being used to satisfy major and minor requirements, and to fulfill NUpath requirements,” wrote James C. Bean, the provost and senior vice president for academic affairs.

Bean also acknowledged that this option does not extend to the graduate school, law school or College of Professional Studies students. 

Undergraduate students must make this choice by April 14, an extension from the previous date, which already passed. 

Many other Boston universities have also adopted the pass/fail option, including MIT and Boston College.This decision comes after a petition was signed by more than 1,200 students. It was widely shared on social media platforms including  Reddit, Instagram and in Northeastern Facebook groups.

10:30 p.m. March 19: All Summer 2 Dialogue of Civilizations programs cancelled

The COVID-19 pandemic impacted university operations beyond Summer 1 for the first time: The university announced Thursday evening that all Summer 2 Dialogues will be cancelled or delivered virtually.

In a brief email, Chancellor Kenneth Henderson and Senior Vice President for External Affairs Michael Armini wrote that the Global Experience Office will work with faculty to determine which programs can be held online. Henderson and Armini are co-chairs of the University COVID-19 Task Force.

“We are saddened by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on global experiential opportunities,” they wrote. “However, the health and well being of our students, faculty, and staff remain our first priority.”

The university previously announced that all Summer 1 courses will be held online and campus housing will remain closed through at least Summer 1. This is NU’s first announcement regarding Summer 2 operations.

2:27 p.m. March 19: Students with on-campus jobs will continue to be paid

The university informed students on Tuesday that it would continue to pay students employed on campus in work-study, part-time or co-op roles through the end of the spring semester, even if they are unable to work due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The university will continue paying students, regardless of funding type or position, until the end of the academic term for which they are scheduled to work,” read a Tuesday email from the Student Employment Office sent to affected students. “We ask that you continue submitting time sheets in accordance with your normal schedule.”

Payroll deadlines will remain the same and supervisors will continue reviewing and approving hours. The Student Employment Office will be staffed Monday from 8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Tuesday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. All payments must be done through direct deposit.

1:37 p.m. March 17: 2020 commencement will be held virtually

Northeastern announced Tuesday what 2020 graduates have feared and suspected for more than a week: Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 commencement ceremony will be held virtually instead of inside TD Garden. In an email sent to all students Tuesday afternoon, President Joseph E. Aoun expressed a desire to make the virtual ceremony as much of a celebration as possible for the class of 2020.

“While we cannot be together in person this year, we will mark Northeastern’s 118th Commencement in every way open to us, beyond a single day or event,” Aoun wrote.

The online ceremony will be on May 1. It will feature a commencement speaker as usual, though Aoun didn’t name one in the email. He mentioned that the university will plan events around the world to celebrate 2020 graduates once it is safe to do so.

8:15 a.m. March 17: Changes to Summer I term, other updates

Northeastern announced in an email to students Tuesday morning that Summer I will be impacted in the same manner as the current spring semester. University housing will remain closed through the end of Summer I, and all Summer I courses will be held online. That email was brief and did not specify if any courses will be canceled or drastically altered in light of this change.

The university also used the email to encourage students in off-campus housing to return to their homes outside of Boston. This will not be enforced by the university. Many students have remained in off-campus housing, and many on-campus residents turned to nearby apartments as vital options as they had to find new arrangements on the fly.

The email, written by Chancellor Kenneth Henderson and Senior Vice President for External Affairs Michael Armini, indicated that all co-op employers have been contacted by NU and that students forced to cut their co-op experience short because of the crisis will receive credit.

The message also noted that the university’s research enterprise will continue to operate and PhD students may remain, while observing social distancing recommendations.

Students can have any mail that was sent to an on-campus mailbox forwarded by emailing [email protected]