Harvard Settles Lawsuit Over Online Learning During Pandemic

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CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (WBZ NewsRadio) — Harvard University has settled a class-action lawsuit over its decision to bring classes online in the early days of the pandemic.

One unnamed graduate student filed the lawsuit back in 2020 and was joined by two others, Abraham Barkhordar and Ella Wechsler-Matthaei. The settlement was formally entered on Jan. 9.

Harvard took all of its classes online starting March 23, 2020. The lawsuit argued that providing students with on-campus learning was part of the school's contract, and that moving lessons online but charging the same tuition was a breach of that contract.

The students were asking for a payout of more than 5 million dollars, plus refunded tuition from the Spring 2020 semester.

"Students...agree to pay Harvard’s costly tuition based on Harvard’s promise to provide exactly what online classes cannot: an in-person learning experience," the suit said.

Similar arguments have made it to federal court with varying levels of success. Brown University settled a lawsuit for $1.5 million in September 2022, and NYU defeated a similar attempt in June.

Attorney Spencer Cox of Burns Charest represented the plaintiffs, and said he couldn't comment on the terms of the settlement. WBZ NewsRadio has reached out to Harvard University for comment.

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