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COVID Update – Booster Requirement, Omicron Variant, Workforce Policies

Dear Members of the Harvard Community,

Looking to the spring semester, Harvard will require COVID-19 boosters for all members of our community who are eligible, including students, faculty, staff, and researchers (individuals with an approved exemption will not need to submit additional information). We encourage you to get a booster as soon as possible so you can benefit from the added protection. If you are unable to get a booster before you return to campus following the winter break, additional opportunities will be available, and you will not be barred from entering campus. Visit MassVaxFinder or Vaccines.gov to find availability in your area.

In early January, we will write with further information as well as post all available information on the University’s Verify Your Vaccination webpage. Please do not call or email Harvard University Health Services with questions about the booster requirement or booster appointments, as their attention is focused on supporting the large number of recent positive cases.

Omicron Variant Likely Present

As we reported on Tuesday, COVID-19 cases have increased across our community. The highly transmissible Omicron variant is already confirmed in the Greater Boston area, and it is expected to become the dominant variant in the country. Our preliminary analysis indicates the Omicron variant is likely already present in COVID-19 cases we are seeing on campus. Individuals are not routinely notified of their variant status because public health guidelines are the same regardless of the variant involved.

Knowing that the Omicron variant is likely present among our community members should inform your behavior. It is critical that you take steps to reduce your risk of contracting and transmitting COVID-19 by masking, minimizing contact, distancing, and testing.

Extension of Coronavirus Workplace Policies

The University is extending its Coronavirus Workplace Policies through April 1, 2022. These policies, which have been in place since March 2020, provide important support to our workforce including:  Emergency Excused Absence for employees whose work has been involuntarily idled; the flexible use of sick time, including the ability to accrue negative sick leave balances of up to 14 days; and up to 10 days of Dependent Well Care to care for dependents whose schooling or care arrangements have been disrupted by the pandemic.

Thank you again for all that you continue to do to keep Harvard healthy.

Sincerely,

Lawrence S. Bacow
President

Alan M. Garber
Provost

Katie Lapp
Executive Vice President

Giang T. Nguyen
Executive Director, Harvard University Health Services