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Fall Planning Update

Dear Members of the Harvard community,

The coming academic year promises to be like none that came before, calling on all of us to work together to make it a success. Some of us will be on campus this fall and some will continue to study and work remotely. No matter where we are located, we all need to do our part to advance the academic progress and achievement of our students and the critical work of our researchers, while protecting the health and well-being of our community and those around us.

Our approach to the University’s core academic activities combines remote work and instruction with vital on-campus activities. As the Deans of each of Harvard’s Schools have announced, nearly all courses will be taught remotely. Some students will return to campus, along with a number of faculty, staff, and academic personnel supporting on-campus activities. Nobody outside these categories, unless directed otherwise by local leadership and managers, is expected to conduct their activities on campus. Accordingly, the majority of Harvard personnel will continue to work remotely through at least the end of the calendar year.

Keeping Harvard Healthy

From wearing face coverings and washing hands frequently, to limiting the size of in-person gatherings, we have a shared responsibility to keep Harvard and our communities safe – whether you’re on campus or working or learning remotely elsewhere. Harvard’s coronavirus site will continue to provide up-to-date information, including the latest public health guidance, on lowering risk of COVID-19 as we move forward.

Over the last several weeks, for those personnel who are already on campus (e.g., essential workers, lab personnel approved to return to campus as part of the state’s re-opening), we have put in place safety requirements and testing protocols. As we move into the fall semester, updated protocols and requirements will be implemented for every member of the community who is authorized to be on campus, based upon the latest scientific and public health findings, and guidance from government officials.

On-Campus Requirements and Testing Protocols

To keep Harvard healthy, all members of our community who will be on campus must adhere to public health measures and participate fully in University programs to control the spread of COVID-19. Beginning August 16, recurring COVID-19 testing will be required for anyone authorized to live in dormitory-style, on-campus housing or to regularly working on campus (currently defined as 4 hours or more per week). Specifically, these members of our community must:

  1. Review the Latest Massachusetts Travel Order and Harvard’s Returning to Campus Policies – For those traveling from outside of Massachusetts, this includes:
    1. Completing the Massachusetts Travel Form prior to arrival, unless you are arriving from a lower-risk state as designated by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health; and
    2. Complying with Harvard’s procedures for anyone living on campus, whether from out of state or within Massachusetts
  2. Complete COVID-19 Training – Before your initial arrival/return to Harvard facilities, everyone must complete state-mandated COVID-19 training (available in the Harvard Training Portal).
  3. Undergo Initial and Recurring COVID-19 Testing – If you will live or work on campus, you are required to take an initial test immediately upon arrival and then to adhere to a required frequency of testing – either three (3), two (2) or one (1) time(s) per week. Please review the fall semester testing information specifying which students, staff, faculty, and academic personnel are required to test and at which frequency. Members of our community who have already started observed COVID-19 testing will switch to a new streamlined and convenient testing protocol. We expect that all testing will be done with self-administered specimen collection (with some exceptions), which will not require direct observation by a health care worker. In the near future, before switching to this new protocol, we will provide a step-by-step training module for how to complete your self-administered specimen collection and access your results.
  4. Familiarize Yourself with Steps Associated with a Positive or Negative Test Result – You can review these steps on the University’s test results webpage. Anyone who tests positive will must remain in isolation in accordance with public health guidance from Harvard University Health Services (HUHS).
  5. Use Crimson Clear Every Day You are on Campus – Before arriving on campus every day, Harvard community members must complete symptom attestation through the Crimson Clear webpage. Those who live on campus must attest each day prior to leaving their residences and entering common spaces or another campus facility. If you are cleared, you will receive a “clear” pass which is valid for 23 hours. If you are not cleared, an HUHS clinician will call you during regular business hours to determine next steps before you can enter a Harvard facility (those living on campus will not be barred from their residences).
  6. Comply with Contact Tracing and Quarantine Requirements – When a positive test result is received, HUHS will begin contact tracing for close contacts in the greater Harvard community. Anyone with known exposure to a positive case will be required to quarantine and may need additional testing.
  7. Be Accessible – Timely communication is essential to keeping the pandemic under control. We ask that all members of the campus community keep their phones powered and nearby at all times. Outreach from HUHS and School administrators may require that you answer phone calls at any time in order to initiate isolation and quarantine procedures.

We will continue to provide updates to assist you in planning for the fall semester, whether you are coming to campus or continuing to work or learn remotely. We know that the challenges of this pandemic continue to affect every member of our community, forcing each of us to adapt how we learn, work, and live. Thank you for joining us in this commitment to reducing risks for every member of our community and keeping Harvard healthy, helping to hasten the day when all of us can return to campus safely.


Alan M. Garber AB ’77, PhD ’82, MD

Katie Lapp
Executive Vice President

Giang T. Nguyen, MD, MPH, MSCE, FAAFP
Executive Director, Harvard University Health Services