Letter from Whitehead Institute Director David Page regarding COVID-19 (3/7)

The following letter was sent by Whitehead Institute Director David Page on March 7, 2020.

Dear fellow members of the Whitehead Institute community,

Given our shared interests in the health and wellbeing of our community, and given our shared interests in the larger biomedical enterprise, I’m sure that you like me have been following closely the rapidly evolving challenges posed by COVID-19, including risks to public health and the responses of academic and medical institutions near and far, not to mention government agencies. The immediate risk to our community remains low at present. However, as an increasing number of cases are being reported in the US, and locations of global spread continue to change, Whitehead Institute is implementing the policies listed below effective today. These policies are consistent with those recently announced at MIT.

I understand that adhering to these policies will require personal sacrifice. I thank all members of the community in advance for your cooperation as we strive to provide a safe and healthy work environment, and as we aim to do our part in slowing the spread of this novel coronavirus.


David Page


The following policies are effective from today, March 7, 2020 through at least May 15, 2020, at which point they will be revaluated.

International Travel

Effective immediately, all Whitehead Institute-related international business travel is suspended for all Institute members, including faculty, students and staff. This includes any travel associated with one’s scholarly activities as a member of Whitehead Institute, including travel funded by a government grant, by a foundation, by a company, by a conference, or by other universities.

Whitehead Institute will consider rare exceptions. Those who feel they must travel internationally may apply in writing to Pari Arokiaraj, Associate Director Safety at araj at wi.mit.edu. This request will be considered by the Institute’s COVID-19 response team.

Whitehead Institute strongly discourages personal travel to international locations by any Whitehead Institute member, including faculty, students, and staff. If you choose to travel to a country on the CDCs COVID-19 travel advisories page, you will be required to complete this form two or three days prior to your return. Those returning from Level 3 countries (as defined by CDC) will be required to self-quarantine for 14 days upon return; others may also be required to self-quarantine.

Institute members who are currently abroad may return to Whitehead Institute. If they are currently in or will travel through locations that are heavily affected, they are required to complete this form and await a response from MIT Medical prior to returning to Whitehead Institute.

Domestic Travel

Whitehead Institute will continue to fund domestic travel at this time. However, we encourage all Institute members to consider whether any domestic travel is essential between now and May 15. Whitehead Institute members are urged to explore options to attend meetings and events virtually, especially in locales where larger numbers of cases have been reported.

Tracking International and Domestic Travel

Through May 15, Whitehead Institute strongly encourages all members to register all international and domestic travel by completing the attached confidential form and sending it to Pari Arokiaraj at araj at wi.mit.edu. This applies to both Whitehead Institute-related and personal trips. If a new city or region becomes highly affected by COVID-19, this information on our members’ international and domestic travel will enable Whitehead Institute’s COVID-19 response team to take appropriate action.

Visitors from Outside MIT

Visitors who are from or have travelled through countries the CDC has classified as Level 2 or above cannot visit Whitehead Institute until they have successfully completed 14 days of self-quarantine.

Visitors who are from or have travelled through other countries are welcome to visit Whitehead Institute. However, we encourage Whitehead Institute members to consider if it is necessary to hold large gatherings during the next two months. We also ask Whitehead Institute members to consider postponing a meeting if your visitors are over the age of 60. Whitehead Institute’s IT Call Center can assist with options for holding meetings virtually instead of in-person.

Whitehead Institute will also cancel all K-12 programs and visits through May 15.

Whitehead Institute Events

Effective immediately, all in-person Whitehead Institute events with more than 100 attendees that are scheduled to take place between now and May 15 must be postponed, canceled, or held virtually.

Please note that these policies are based on the information available to us as of March 7, 2020 and are subject to change on short notice as the COVID-19 situation evolves.