Dear MBL Faculty & Staff,

Like so many academic institutions around the world, the MBL’s Education Office has been closely monitoring the COVID-19 pandemic as it relates to the resumption of in-person programs and courses. As many of you are experiencing with your own family members, safely bringing students of any age together in an in-person setting requires detailed planning and the coordination of a multitude of factors.

Over the past few months, my team has been working closely with colleagues at the University of Chicago and staff from across the MBL to plan for the return of students to campus, focusing in particular on the Semester in Environmental Science (SES), which would have started last weekend, as well as the UChicago Autumn Quarter.

Due to a variety of constraints including complexities of access to reliable testing, we made the tough decision to cancel this year’s SES program. However, with more time to plan and in close coordination with the University of Chicago, we are preparing to welcome 16 UChicago undergraduates to Woods Hole this fall.

The students will arrive on September 24 at which time they will all receive COVID-19 testing. Individuals who test negative, or who are traveling to the MBL from a lower risk state as defined by The Commonwealth of Massachusetts, will be allowed to transition to a “Stay-at-Home” status meaning they can take their meals or spend time outside on the MBL campus. All others must quarantine in their Swope dorm rooms. Students will be tested weekly throughout their stay. Any student who tests positive while at the MBL will be transferred to a COVID-19 isolation area in Swope.

All Autumn Quarter courses will be held virtually from September 29 – October 2. In-person courses will begin on October 5 and will be conducted in compliance of all MBL mask and social distancing guidelines. Lab work will take place in Loeb. Students will depart on November 21, before the Thanksgiving holiday.

The following courses will be offered:

Microbiomes Across Environments
Faculty – David Mark Welch and Elena Peredo, MBL

Imaging for Biological Research
Faculty – Nipam Patel, Louie Kerr, and Carsten Wolff, MBL

Neurons and Glia: Advanced Cellular and Molecular Topics
Faculty – Bill Green and Rob Carrillo, University of Chicago

I am grateful to my team as well as colleagues in the Housing and Facilities departments and to the faculty for their assistance in planning. I am looking forward to getting back to what we do best—providing transformative educational experiences for students. Please feel free to reach out to Education at with any questions.

Best regards,

Linda E. Hyman
Burroughs Wellcome Director of Education