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COVID-19 Guidance Update

Dear Members of the Harvard Community,

With the recent removal of mask mandates, we are writing with an update on our ongoing guidance related to the COVID-19 pandemic. While we have continued to see cases across our community, the fluctuations were anticipated and the rates are lower than we were seeing earlier in the semester. Importantly, recent cases have continued to be largely mild thanks to our community’s high vaccination and booster rate. Harvard continues to carefully monitor the public health situation as we consider additional updates to University guidance.

Keep Your Vaccination up to Date

  • COVID-19 vaccination dramatically reduces the risk of severe illness, hospitalization, and death. It is indeed thanks to the high vaccination rate of our community that we have continued to see mild cases, and this has allowed us to change guidelines to making masks optional. Unvaccinated persons who are infected are 41 times more likely to die than infected persons who received the vaccine with booster.
  • All Harvard community members, except those with an approved exemption, are required to be up-to-date on vaccination, including boosters. If you are not up to date, make a booster appointment now or as soon as you will be eligible. Appointments are readily available through HUHS and local pharmacies. Upload your vaccine documentation once you’ve received your shot.

Optional Masking

  • With limited exceptions, face coverings on campus are optional on Harvard’s campuses.
  • Schools and Central Administration Units may continue to require masking in certain settings as they deem appropriate. Schools may grant discretion to individual faculty to require masking in their classrooms.
  • Masks will continue to be required in certain settings, such as healthcare facilities, public transit, and University buses and shuttles, and at indoor gatherings and events (including classes) that exceed 250 people.
  • If you feel the need to continue to wear a mask for your own protection, or to protect someone close to you, you should do so. 
  • Nobody should be made to feel uncomfortable, unwelcome, or marginalized because they choose to wear or not wear a mask in a mask-optional setting. Think about your words carefully, and how they affect someone—even joking can be hurtful.
  • Remember that many members of our community, or their family members and other loved ones, are vulnerable to complications from COVID-19 and should continue to wear a mask.
  • Masks should also be worn for the full 10 days after a positive test or after an exposure.

Testing

  • At this time, all Harvard affiliates with any on-campus presence are still required to test on the schedule that appears in Color. We anticipate updates to testing requirements in the future, as we continue to monitor public health conditions with emphasis on severity of illness and overall community risks.
  • If you have symptoms or test positive, please follow the University’s guidance provided on the Keep Harvard Healthy website.
  • To be part of electronic contact tracing, you may voluntarily enable MassNotify on your smart phone. MassNotify alerts users if they have been exposed to COVID-19. MassNotify users who test positive should specify this on their smartphone to trigger the anonymous notification process. Using MassNotify does not negate the requirement to notify Harvard if you test positive outside of HUHS/Color.

Coronavirus Workplace Policies

  • The University’s temporary Coronavirus Workplace Policies, which include Emergency Excused Absence, the flexible use of sick time, and Dependent Well Care, have provided important support to our workforce for over two years. With the recent easing of restrictions and updated campus guidance, these policies will end effective April 1, 2022. 
  • In addition, MA Emergency COVID-19 Paid Sick Leave will also end effective April 1, 2022.
  • If you have already requested time off beyond April 1, 2022 under any of these policies, please work with your manager to use another type of paid time off where appropriate.

The University will continue to monitor COVID-19 conditions, and will update any changes to requirements when necessary. We thank you for your continued adherence to policies and flexibility to changes happening.

Sincerely,

Giang T. Nguyen
Executive Director, University Health Services

Manuel Cuevas-Trisán
Vice President, Human Resources