COVID-19 – Moving courses online and other significant updates

March 10, 2020

Dear Members of the Yale Community,

I write with significant updates to Yale’s response to the spread of COVID-19.

In recent weeks, we have all seen that the challenges posed by COVID-19 are rapidly changing across our country and the world. I ask you to join me in taking new actions to prevent and slow the spread of the virus. Current scientific and medical evidence suggests that preemptive public health measures are more effective than those that are reactive. By being proactive as a community, we can safeguard our own health and the well-being of those with whom we interact.

In this message, I describe actions that will minimize close-proximity interaction among members of our community in classrooms, dining halls, residential colleges, and other common facilities:

  • Moving classes online when they resume after spring recess
  • Asking students to remain home or return home when possible
  • Limiting international and domestic travel
  • Maintaining continuity of research and teaching
  • Ensuring ongoing staff operations and well-being
  • Restricting the size of events

This plan is based on the expert advice of dedicated faculty and medical professionals at the Yale Schools of Public Health, Medicine, and Nursing; Yale Health; and local, state, and federal agencies. By taking these preventive measures, we protect those who are most vulnerable to this disease.

For advice on what to do if you become ill, and other important information, please visit Yale’s COVID-19 website.

Moving classes online when they resume after spring recess

When spring recess ends and through April 5 at the earliest, classes will be held using Zoom, Canvas, or other online tools. I know classes take many forms across the university, so this shift to online teaching and learning raises many questions. Deans will be communicating with their faculty and students to provide further details in the days ahead.

All faculty members and graduate student teaching assistants received information from the Poorvu Center for Teaching and Learning describing how to convert their courses to online instruction and to obtain assistance with the transition. Please reach out to the Poorvu center as soon as possible if you need support (

As we approach April 5, we will reassess the situation and communicate next steps. We will provide information sufficiently in advance of that date to allow for planning.

Asking students to remain home or return home when possible

We are asking Yale College students to remain at home after spring recess. For undergraduates who are on campus now, please make every effort to return home as soon as possible, and no later than Sunday, March 15. Yale College Dean Marvin Chun will be providing additional details in the coming days. Undergraduates will have the support of the university in meeting their academic requirements remotely while at home. I understand that some undergraduates consider New Haven to be their home or cannot leave the university at this time. The Yale College Dean’s Office will provide separate instructions for these students, who also will take their classes online.

Graduate and professional students are encouraged to remain off-campus and participate in online instruction, unless being on campus is necessitated by the nature of their research or academic programs. More information is forthcoming from the deans of each school.

The university will remain open and continue to provide custodial and limited dining services.

Limiting international and domestic travel

The following is an update and elaboration on previously announced travel policies. Please note that this guidance pertains to faculty, staff, and graduate and professional students. We urge Yale College students presently on campus to return home if possible.

  • University-sponsored travel (Travel is considered university-sponsored if it draws on a university-administered funding source.)
    • All university-sponsored international travel is now prohibited.
    • We strongly urge you to postpone university-sponsored domestic travel and find ways to conduct the work online.
  • Personal travel
    • For personal international travel, we urge you to carefully reconsider your travel choices and avoid traveling if possible.
    • For personal domestic travel, please consider your decisions carefully and avoid traveling if your agenda includes participation in conferences or other large gatherings.

If you must travel, review the table that summarizes Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) travel notices and Yale Health guidance. Most importantly, if you are traveling to any country or region on the CDC Warning Level 3 list, complete this registration form and self-monitor and self-isolate for 14 days after you return using these guidelines.

Maintaining continuity of research and teaching

While the health of Yale’s faculty, staff, and students is our top priority, the university also remains committed to its mission of research and education. Faculty members and graduate and professional students are asked to carry out their teaching responsibilities online. Research groups have been asked to make contingency plans to maintain research continuity, which may involve faculty, staff, and students continuing to work and study in labs, machine shops, offices, and other campus facilities. The university will maintain central services to support research and teaching.

Ensuring ongoing staff operations and well-being

By separate email this week, staff will be provided with information about measures the university is taking to plan for the continuation of university operations and to ensure everyone’s continued safety. Most generally, we encourage staff to hold meetings virtually, and we ask each staff leader to provide flexibility for people to work from home when consistent with their job responsibilities and to have time to care for any ill family members, should the need arise.

Restricting the size of events

On March 7, the university asked students, faculty, and staff to postpone, cancel, or adjust all Yale-hosted events, other than classes, expected to involve 100 or more participants. Yale’s COVID-19 website provides additional information about Yale’s libraries and museums. As noted in the original announcement, even if an event has fewer than 100 people, please think about moving your event online or increasing the size of the venue so that participants can be spread apart.

We will continue to monitor carefully the spread of COVID-19. It may prove necessary to extend the actions described here beyond their end date or to take additional measures to safeguard everyone’s health based on emerging medical and scientific information. We will keep you informed of updates by email and will maintain the latest news and guidance on Yale’s COVID-19 website.

I appreciate the students, faculty, and staff members who have worked so hard in recent weeks to promote the health of members of our community and to contribute to the well-being of those who live and work beyond our campus. In the coming weeks, we will need to rely on one another’s resilience, patience, and expertise more than ever before. Please accept my gratitude for your efforts to protect each other’s health and support the continuity of the university’s mission.


Peter Salovey
Chris Argyris Professor of Psychology