On-campus Meeting & Event Guidance

Harvard’s goal is to reduce the number of people on campus — including visitors — in order to slow the potential transmission of the virus and protect vulnerable populations from exposure. All members of the Harvard community are asked to help in this effort.

If you are planning an event or meeting at Harvard, Harvard University Health Services (HUHS) offers the following guidance. Remember this is an evolving situation. Let your participants know that you might need to cancel at the last minute and that they should make contingency plans just in case.

  • We strongly urge cancelling any non-essential large gatherings of 10 or more people. This social distancing measure will limit the spread of illness. Organizers should postpone the meeting or event, or employ remote technology if possible (Zoom, Skype, etc.) to help avoid the spread of coronavirus. This meeting size is consistent with the guidance of our health care experts and professionals and with the policies of many peer institutions.

  • Meetings or events of any size should be reconsidered. We encourage using remote technology to collaborate via teleconferencing instead of meeting in person. For more information on how to utilize teleconferencing, visit our HUIT guidelines for remote work.

  • For gatherings of any size, remind attendees of simple measures to lower risk and prevent spread of viruses (not shaking hands, practicing social distancing, etc). Ensure easy access to handwashing facilities, and make sure alcohol-based sanitizers are readily available to all participants.

  • Events with speakers invited from off campus — whether the speakers are international or domestic — should be cancelled, postponed, or conducted remotely. The purpose of this guidance is to reduce the chance of transmitting illness into or out of the Harvard community.

  • Job interviews for open positions should be conducted remotely via video- or teleconferencing tools, like Zoom, or by telephone. Whatever approach you take, use it consistently with all applicants to the same job, so none are disadvantaged. Using fair hiring practices remains important.

  • We understand these new policies have financial implications. We are working with Financial Administration and each Unit’s financial staff on guidance. In the interim, you may want to use the March 6 email and the information on this website in cancellation or reimbursement discussions.

Visitors to Campus Attending Your Event

Again, Harvard’s goal is to reduce the number of people on campus — including visitors — in order to slow the potential transmission of the virus and protect vulnerable populations from exposure. All members of the Harvard community are asked to help in this effort.

  • Event organizers should know and understand restrictions and other considerations based on the COVID-19 status of the areas that participants are traveling from. In particular, anyone intending to visit our campus after recently being in a jurisdiction with CDC Level 3 travel warning for coronavirus will be required to self-isolate in another location for 14 days after leaving the COVID-19 risk area, before attending any event at Harvard.

  • This also includes visitors who had only a stop-over in a CDC Level 3 location, as well as those who originated from such locations. Organizers should be aware of all visitors scheduled to attend, and to have them review our guidelines.

Facilities Considerations

  • Choose a room or event space large enough to prevent crowding for the expected attendance. Consider staggering food and drink stations, and serve food in individual units like bag lunches, individual water bottles, etc. Avoid serving foods where multiple hands will touch the food (e.g., bowls of chips). Provide serving utensils if needed or arrange for food to be served by staff who are trained in safe food handling.

  • When possible, increase the frequency of any shuttle service provided to the event location so there is more space on board for passengers.

  • Facemasks are not recommended by CDC to prevent spread of the virus in people without symptoms. These should not be provided to the general community at events.

Education/Communication Considerations as Event Unfolds

Before Event:

  • Consider virtual options (e.g. livestream, group video chat).

  • Education and communication from event organizers should include:

    • Acknowledgement that coronavirus is a concern

    • A link to the Harvard COVID-19 webpage: https://www.harvard.edu/coronavirus

    • Advise to stay home if ill (consider refunding ticket costs if someone needs to cancel)

    • Usual prevention precautions

    • Notification that this is an evolving situation and events may be cancelled at any point

During Event:

  • Display Signs/Posters/Table Tents/Digital images reminding participants of prevention measures.

  • Assign a point person for participants to use as a resource should they develop symptoms during the event.

  • Announce actions participants should take to protect themselves and limit infection spread at the start and throughout the event.

  • Encourage people to replace handshakes with greetings that don’t require skin contact.

What to do if someone presents with symptoms during the event:

  • Contact HUHS at 617-495-5711 for advice on next steps.

  • Participants should not be encouraged to go directly to any health care provider without a phone call prior. Health care facilities need to prepare for the person’s arrival.

  • If facemasks are available at the time of your event, they should only be used by individuals who appear ill.