The MBL continues to closely monitor the COVID-19 pandemic with the goal of protecting the health, safety, and well-being of our faculty, staff, and students.

Please see the “Updates” menu above for an archive of status updates. If you have questions, please email us at

The MBL is committed to establishing a safe campus environment that will enable the resumption of our research and educational activities. In coordination with the University of Chicago, we are developing plans for a safe, coordinated, and phased return to campus operations. Four working groups are focusing on key components of the MBL based on Commonwealth of Massachusetts requirements under the Four-Phase Reopening Plan.

  • Research – Resident and Whitman research, MBLWHOI Library, and animal care – David Mark Welch, lead
  • Education – All instructional programs plus interns and related programs – Linda Hyman, lead
  • Campus housing and dining services – Marie Russell, lead
  • Administration/Operations – Sebastien Laye, lead

Latest Updates:

September 9: Fall Education Update

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

August 7: Rhode Island Added to Massachusetts Quarantine Order

Dear Colleagues,

Effective today, Friday, August 7, travel to Rhode Island is no longer exempt from quarantine under the Commonwealth of Massachusetts’ COVID-19 Travel Order.

As is the case with other non-exempt states, people who have traveled to Rhode Island and are returning to Massachusetts must complete a travel form and quarantine for 14 days or produce a negative COVID-19 test result that has been administered up to 72-hours prior to arrival in Massachusetts.

According to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, the decision to remove Rhode Island from the list of lower risk states is due to increases in both Rhode Island’s positive test rate and cases per 100,000.

The MBL remains vigilant as it relates to following the Commonwealth’s instruction on out-of-state travel and will adhere to the travel order. If there is a family care responsibility or emergency situation which requires that a staff member travel to a state not exempt from quarantine, please contact Ann Egan, Director of Human Resources.

Paul Speer
Chief Operating Officer

July 30: Update on Administrative Opening Plan

Dear Colleagues,

The process for reopening MBL’s on-campus administrative functions is now in its final stages, coming on the heels of a research reopening that has been running smoothly over the last six weeks. The MBL administrative plan has been reviewed by the University of Chicago and will now go to Director Nipam Patel for his final approval which is expected early next week. August 5 would be the earliest date the administration plan would go into effect.

The health and safety of our community remains our highest priority and limiting the density of and contact among people within our facilities is one of the most effective ways of protecting our community and slowing the spread of COVID-19. With that in mind, a guiding principle of the administrative plan is that all work that can be done remotely should continue to be done remotely.

Once approved, the administrative plan will be available for review on the MBL Intranet. In addition, a virtual Town Hall will be held next Tuesday, August 4. All faculty and staff are invited to attend the Town Hall which will cover the plan’s key policies and procedures as well as provide a general update on the status of MBL reopening. A Q&A session will follow presentations. An invitation will follow by e-mail tomorrow, Friday, July 31st.

I commend our research and other essential staff who have enabled MBL’s reopening to date to progress smoothly. Through our continued diligence, we can move to this next stage of reopening administration in a safe and systematic way.

Paul Speer
Chief Operating Officer